CCR Magazine

You are here  :Home arrow News arrow Council bailiff use ‘should end’ for the most vulnerable
Contact Us Newsletter Signup RSS Feeds

Latest News Headlines


Commercial Credit News


Council bailiff use ‘should end’ for the most vulnerable PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 12 April 2016
The government should put an end to the practice of local authorities passing council tax debts to bailiffs in the case of the most vulnerable residents, according to the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline.  The call follows the publication of former MP Eric Ollerenshaw’s Independent Review of Local Council Tax Support (LCTS), which highlighted local authorities’ increasing use of bailiffs as an area of concern. 

The report, commissioned by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), makes several recommendations three years on from the localisation of Council Tax Benefit in April 2013.

These include a recommendation that the government “should enable LCTS recipients to pay off arrears through a voluntary attachment to benefits agreed with the council, without the requirement to obtain a liability order” through the courts, with safeguards to ensure that individuals are given the time and information they need to consider their options. A liability order is needed to take a range of enforcement action, including the use of bailiffs, and can mean the addition of costs, ranging up to well over £100, to the debt.

The Money Advice Trust welcomed the recommendation and called for the government to go further by explicitly putting an end to the use of bailiffs for recipients of Local Council Tax Support, who are likely to be the most financially vulnerable of all those in arrears and have already been identified as requiring additional assistance.

The Money Advice Trust’s recent Stop The Knock research, highlighted in Ollerenshaw’s report, revealed that 2.1 million debts were passed to bailiffs by local authorities in 2014/15, an increase of 16 percent over a two-year period. Of these, 1.27 million referrals related to council tax arrears.

One in four callers to National Debtline last year (25 percent) were in arrears on their Council Tax bills last year – up from 14 percent in 2007.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “On the front line of debt advice we know that instructing bailiffs to collect council tax and other debts can deepen debt problems, rather than solve them – and this also has a serious impact on the wellbeing of residents who are already in a vulnerable situation. Eric Ollerenshaw is right to highlight this as an area of concern.

“We have long warned that local authorities are too quick to pass debts onto enforcement agents, with 2.1 million debts referred to bailiffs in the space of 12 months alone.

“Bailiffs should only ever be used as a last resort – and we believe they shouldn’t be used at all in the case of recipients of Council Tax Support, who councils have already identified as requiring additional help to keep on top of their finances. Instead, councils should use earlier intervention, signpost to free debt advice and make use of other repayment options. “The publication of the Ollerenshaw Review gives the government a welcome opportunity to bring about real improvements in the way that local councils collect debts from some of the most vulnerable in society – and we would urge them to seize it.”

 Forums International Ltd

Forums International Ltd

 Attendance at your first meeting is free of charge, and please quote reference 'CCR2016' to receive the special 10% discount off of your first annual subscription.

Find out more here.

latest issue

CCR Cover

The latest edition of CCR Magazine, the leading editorial publication in the UK credit industry, is out.

Read the latest issue online


CCR is the premier magazine for consumer and credit professionals. It provides an independent voice to the industry, breaking major news stories and running in-depth features.

As a magazine, it works with and campaigns on behalf of the credit industry to promote its importance as a centre of potential profit and business development to the wider business world.

Subscribe to CCR Magazine

CCR World Magazine


Providing information and analysis for thousands of senior credit professionals worldwide, every quarter.

Find out more

GTS Media Ltd
81 Cambridge Road

Registered in England No: 05483197