A former fashion model has become one of the country’s first millionaire bailiffs.
Julie Green-Jones has raked in £2.7million in the past three years as the head of one of Britain’s largest bailiff companies – Rossendales.
The 50-year -old, from Lancashire, began her career as a fashion model, touring the world as she was booked for various shoots.
Now she earns almost £1m a year, lives at a £2m country estate, and is in charge of 200 debt collectors at Rossendales – one of Britain’s eight largest bailiff companies. The companies have seen their combined annual turnover rise to £106.7million, breaking the £100million barrier for the first time. Last year’s biggest earner was Marston Group, with a £25.8million turnover, followed by Equita, with £20.1million.
Rossendales, raked in £16.2million — an increase of almost ten per cent in two years — and JBW, which earned £12.8million, was up 80 per cent.
But the news comes as a recent report has launched heavy criticism at some parts of the industry for using ‘unscrupulous’ tactics such as inflating charges and inventing fees.
A report by the Local Government Ombudsman, which looked at use of bailiffs by councils, found some were employing practices which could see families pushed deeper in debt. In one case, a £105 fee on a parking ticket was increased to £405, and in another a woman was charged a £250 so called van fee.
It is supposed to cover the cost of bringing a vehicle to a property but the maximum charged should be £100.
The eight top bailiff firms have not been implicated in any wrongdoing and the report does not name companies individually.
Between April 2011 and March 2012, Citizens Advice received more than two million requests for help on matters relating to debt.
Gillian Guy, chief executive, said: ‘We are seeing more and more evidence that some bailiffs are intimidating people in their own homes.’ She said the system was in urgent need of reform as many who sought the organisations advice were already struggling with poverty and did not know their rights or what do when a bailiff comes to the door.
Bailiffs body the Civil Enforcement Association said it disputed the findings of the report.
It said it had a robust complaints process and bailiffs accused of intimidating people or charging illegally high fees were ‘investigated rigorously.’ But a spokesman agreed that the system governing the industry needed reform — and said the Government was ‘avoiding the issue’.
Ms Green-Jones turned to the debt collecting business in 1989 after a marriage break-up left her as a single parent with no income. After climbing through the ranks she said she took a risk and bought out Rossendales in 2007.
She defended the company’s practices when an employee was filmed allegedly threatening debtors and breaking industry guidelines in a 2011 TV exposé.
His contract was later terminated for his ‘inexcusable behaviour. ‘
Later that year she said in an interview bailiffs collected money ‘critical for front line services’. She said: ‘That is all money for the public purse. It’s not only what we collect, we also serve as a deterrent.’
Last year’s record earnings for bailiffs come as experts predict a triple dip recession and as several high street chains announce that thousands of workers could lose their jobs.
Official growth figures due on Friday are expected to show the British economy shrank in the final quarter of last year.
Many experts predict there will be another fall in the three months from January to March, plunging the nation into its third recession in five years.
Employees in the shadow of the axe include 800 staff at Honda’s Swindon plant, 1,300 at collapsed camera chain Jessops, 760 at movie rental business Blockbuster and more than 4,000 at HMV.
It will mean more families face losing their main earner and could struggle to pay bills.