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Council tax debt: Concern over use of bailiffs

From BBC - November 13, 2017

Bailiffs were called in to collect debts by councils in England and Wales on more than two million occasions last year, a charity has discovered.

Council tax arrears accounted for 60% of cases sent to bailiffs by local authorities in 2016-17, the Money Advice Trust said.

The Trust, which runs National Debtline, said more could be done for the vulnerable in debt.

The association representing councils said they had a duty to collect taxes.

Enforcement agents, commonly known as bailiffs, were used to chase council tax arrears on 1.38 million occasions out of 2.3 million cases, the "Stop the Knock" report by the Money Advice Trust found.

They were also used on 810,000 occasions for unpaid parking fines, 86,000 times for unpaid business rates, and on 50,000 occasions to recover overpaid housing benefit, the report found.

The use of bailiffs has risen by 14% compared with two years ago when similar research was carried out by the charity.

However, it said that there had been widespread improvement in the way councils used this last resort.

Its concern was, primarily, in the use of bailiffs by smaller councils.

'Last resort'

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "The growing use of bailiffs to collect debts by many local authorities is deeply troubling.

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