Local Authorities have been given the green light to send Bailiffs to collect outstanding debts. This follows a five month suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The use of Bailiffs had been suspended on the 26th March this year but can now resume Debt Collection activities as long as they adhere to new guidance issued. Other than ‘exceptional circumstances’, they are not allowed to enter properties to seize goods.
The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) told Money Saving Expert website they exceptional circumstances may include cases where there has been instances of persistence non payment or difficult debtors.
The Courts and other local authorities can use Bailiffs to collect local authority debts, parking fines and court fines. They will be able to collect debt that was incurred prior to the pandemic.
The new rules bailiffs must adhere to
The Ministry of Justice has issued a guidance for bailiffs publication to prevent any virus transmission. Bailiffs must be seen to:
- Observe two metre social distancing, or one-metre social distancing with masks or other risk mitigation items if two metres isn’t possible.
- Terminate a visit if an individual tries to breach social distancing.
- Avoid unduly raising their voices.
- Make reasonable attempts to contact residential households to assess risk before visiting.
- Ask on arrival if anyone in the household is symptomatic or shielding, and terminate the visit if so.
- Wear a face covering wherever possible on premises or in vehicles.
- Wear disposable gloves if likely to come into contact with objects such as doors and doorbells.
The trade association for Bailiffs (CIVEA) said in a statement on its website: “It is vital for local authorities to collect debts that were incurred before the coronavirus lockdown to fill the funding gaps in their budgets.
“Between March and June, councils incurred £4.8 billion of extra costs and income losses. Despite extra central Government funding, local authorities have warned the budget shortfall in England and Wales could top £7.4 billion.”