Councils are allowing bailiffs to threaten public with aggression
Citizens Advice have accused councils of letting bailiffs threaten everyone and get away with needlessly aggressive behaviour when collecting council tax debts, adding that councils are actually worsening debts by adding on charges.
They also state that there is a huge difference in these costs in different parts of the country, almost like they're all making it up as they go along.
However, the bailiffs' trade body reckon the Citizens Advice report was based on "distorted facts".
The charity said that this year, they'd heard from 16,905 people worried about bailiffs enforcing council tax debt and over a third of these said they were being charged for visits bailiffs never even made. Around 40% reported that they were threatened with the removal of items that didn't belong to them. Further research suggest that a quarter of councils don't even hold any details on complaints about bailiffs.
The Civil Enforcement Association, representin bailiffs, said: "This is based upon distorted facts, the use of pseudo statistical analysis and highly emotive and inappropriate language." They added that this was a "self-selecting sample" of "unhappy individuals".
Councillor Sharon Taylor, who chairs the Local Government Association's Finance Panel, said: "Councils have a responsibility to their taxpayers to collect taxes so that important services like caring for the elderly, collecting bins and fixing roads are not affected. Bailiffs are only ever used by local authorities as a last resort to tackle persistent non-payment and councils only charge fees that cover the costs they incur in processing each liability order."
"Councils that use bailiffs to recover debts have a responsibility to ensure that people are being treated fairly and that resident complaints about unacceptable bullying or intimidation are taken seriously."