Council chiefs defend the use of bailiffs

Using bailiffs was described as a "last resort"
Using bailiffs was described as a "last resort"

Local councils have hit back at criticisms that some use bailiffs too easily.

A broadside was launched by the Money Advice Trust which said that there are massive variations between authorities on bailiff use and that those that use them most “seem to be assuming that anyone not paying debts is a ‘won’t pay’, rather than a ‘can’t pay’.”

Wigan Council has previously been named as one of the country’s most prolific bailiff users, with debt collectors employed 20,822 times during the 2014-15 financial year.

But responding to the trust claims, LGA resources board chair Coun Claire Kober, said: “No council wants to ask people on the lowest incomes to pay more, but councils have a duty to their residents to collect taxes – these fund crucial services, such as caring for the elderly, protecting vulnerable children, keeping roads maintained and collecting bins. With councils facing a £5.8bn funding shortfall by 2020, it’s essential that these funds are collected so these vital services can be protected.

“Before councils use bailiffs, which are only ever used as a last resort, people will have been encouraged to apply for monetary support and efforts will have been made to either attach the debt to a salary or arrange new payment plans.”