Bristol’s home of in-depth journalism
Powered by 2,000+ members
The Bristol Cable

Government report puts council tax bailiffs in the spotlight as Cable campaign gathers pace.

Illustration: Jes Hunt

The Ministry of Justice has this week announced a crackdown on rogue bailiffs, after a government report found that concerns remain over aggressive and intimidatory tactics by debt collectors.

Part of our campaign calling on the council to stop using bailiffs

no to bailiffs, a cross through a fist knocking on a doorRead more from this campaign.

The report comes just weeks after the Bristol Cable launched a campaign calling on the mayor and the council to find fair and effective alternatives to using bailiffs to collect council tax debts. As previously reported by the Cable, Bristol City Council has set bailiffs on tens of thousands of people in the past two years with bailiffs and their private finance backers set to make millions from the business.

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) report assesses the impact of changes implemented in 2014 that aimed to introduce better regulation and transparency to debt collection practices. While improvements are noted, the report outlines concerns that some bailiffs continue to bully those in debt.

For example, a majority of workers for advice charities surveyed said that while the collection of the correct debts had improved, bailiffs’ behaviour towards their clients had either gone unchanged or gotten worse since the 2014 reforms – particularly with aggressive tactics and the treatment of vulnerable clients.

The report also highlighted that people working in the advice charities experienced major difficulties in making complaints about bailiffs, because it is often necessary to begin a burdensome court process for complaints to be effective.

The difficulty of making a complaint is exacerbated by the failure of creditors to be accountable for the behaviour of bailiffs acting on their behalf.

A Bristol City Council source told the Cable that there is very little oversight once an indebted account is passed on for enforcement, and it’s up to the bailiffs to tell the local authority and respond accordingly if a person they are dealing with is vulnerable in some way.

The report also found that only 27% of the 1.2 million debts assessed were eventually settled, which raises further questions around the effectiveness of using bailiffs to collect debts.

For years charities have been calling for fundamental change in the regulation of bailiffs. In particular there have been calls on councils to review and scrap the use of bailiffs to collect council tax, as the process creates more debt and causes distress to those involved.

Help us #bootoutbailiffs by sharing this investigation with your friends, family, your local councillor, and the mayor.

If you want to contribute to this campaign by sharing your story or expertise then get in touch at adam@thebristolcable.org,
call 075 337 185 47 or just use the form below…



    Can we contact you
    yesno

    Please prove you are human by selecting the Tree.

     

    Share and follow the campaign on social media and together we can #bootoutbailiffs

    Support the journalism Bristol needs.

    Thanks to the 2,000+ members who support the Cable, our in-depth journalism is free for everyone. Together, we empower readers with independent and investigative local reporting. Join us and be a part of Bristol’s reader-owned media cooperative.

    Join the Cable

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Reports Boot Out Bailiffs

    Charities call on councils nationwide to follow Bristol on bailiffs

    Voices Edition 16 Banner Home Page Boot Out Bailiffs

    Opinion: Our mayor has an open goal opportunity to help thousands. Will he take it?

    Voices Boot Out Bailiffs Banner Home Page

    “He said that he was nearby, and was going to come over and take my things”

    Investigations Boot Out Bailiffs

    Revealed: Tory financiers are cashing in on the bailiffs used by the council

    Co-op Community Boot Out Bailiffs Banner Home Page Lower Banner Home Page

    We’re launching a campaign to stop the council setting bailiffs on Bristolians. Here’s why.

    Investigations Banner Home Page Boot Out Bailiffs

    The council have set bailiffs on tens of thousands of Bristolians. But there is another way.

    In Bristol

    The essential round-up

    Sent to your inbox every Saturday morning