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Councils Referred 1.8M Debts To Bailiffs Last Year

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Telegraph 22.8.13

'Local councils across England and Wales referred debts to bailiffs on 1.8 million occasions in the last year, new research has found These debts include council tax arrears, business rate arrears and parking fines.

The Money Advice Trust has released the figures, obtained from Freedom of Information requests submitted to all 374 local authorities in England and Wales, to highlight how often residents are pursued by debt collectors.

The debt charity is calling on councils to be more responsible in managing their debt collection.

One of the most common debts to be referred to bailiffs was council tax arrears. In the first half of last year the charity's National Debtline took over 20,000 calls for help regarding council tax – an increase of 61pc on five years ago, and 13pc from last year.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “These figures make clear that something has to change. It is not economically or socially responsible for local authorities to continue to use bailiffs so frequently.

"Our experience through National Debtline shows us first-hand how bailiffs can deepen debt problems, rather than solve them."

Birmingham City Council, the largest local authority in the UK, referred debts to bailiffs on 82,329 occasions - equivalent to 17pc of the total households in Birmingham.

The London Borough of Newham referred 55,652 cases – equivalent to half of the total properties under its authority.

Excessive bailiff use has also been adopted by smaller authorities including Merthyr Tydfil Council which referred 6,094 debts to the bailiffs – 22pc of the total properties under its authority.

Ms Elson said: “Local authorities seem to be assuming that anyone not paying debts is a ‘won’t pay’, rather than a ‘can’t pay’. In today’s economy, with real incomes having fallen consistently for many years, more and more people are falling into the ‘can’t pay’ bracket – sending the bailiffs in to collect these debts can be very destructive, both financially and psychologically.

The top bailiff referrers in England and Wales

Local authority

Bailiff referrals in the last 12 months

Bailiff referrals as a percentage of total properties

Birmingham City Council

82,329

17%

City of Westminster

56,222

36%

London Borough of Newham

55,652

50%

London Borough of Croydon

50,209

32%

Liverpool City Council

47,054

20%

London Borough of Lambeth

43,011

30%

Manchester City Council

42,012

17%

Leeds City Council

40,780

11%

London Borough of Redbridge

35,502

33%

London Borough of Southwark

33,130

24% '

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.....one answer....provide jobs giving them an opportunity to repay it.....the only negative would be there would be fewer bailiff and court jobs etc. ;)

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by debts do they mean 1.8 billion litres of blood they want get out the stones they have bled dry?

or maybe its 1.8 billion of money people are refusing to hand over to pay for poor services and massive incomes for staff.

something going to give soon.

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Keeps the Bailiff outreach officer and ethics consultant teams busy.

No doubt pay rises and bonuses too.

Wonder how much is decades old council tax demands.

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