A Labour run Council in London has become the first local authority in the United Kingdom to stop using Bailiffs labelling it as a “medieval practice”.
Hammersmith and Fulham council has described the change in policy for the collection of council tax rent arrears as a “game changer” and it they have reportedly labelled the practice as “medieval” according to reports in the Daily Mirror.
The Labour Council views the usage of Bailiffs as detrimental to the objectives of a council which they say is to help people.
The council will now explore the use of their own internal debt collection procedures to work with residents facing cash problems and to secure more realistic payment plans for debtors.
Last year, Bailiffs collected more than £848,000 worth of unpaid council tax yet the Council claims it was a low figure compared to the £3 million in total that was outstanding.
Max Schmid is the Council Cabinet Member for finance said “If a Bailiff pressures someone into paying their council tax arrears at the expense of rent, they are more likely to be evicted and end up in temporary accommodation”
“This can have severe emotional costs for the evicted family and huge financial costs for the council and other parts of the public sector – so instead of bailiffs, we will be using our own ethical debt collection approach”
“In simple terms, it means never asking anyone to pay more than they can afford”
As part of the councils strategy, anybody deliberately trying to avoid paying will be faced with more conventional means of securing the debt such as attachment of earnings orders and charges placed on property they own.
The Money Advice Trust has recently labelled Councils widespread use of Bailiffs as ‘troubling’ in a report released last week called – Stop the Knock.