An alternative to bailiffs
INSPIRED by your campaign to beat debt, I wanted to share information about bailiffs.
Bailiffs are the elephant in the room for many people; we all know they are out there waiting to pounce on those that can't afford their council tax.
So I asked our council with regards to the use of bailiffs by North East Lincolnshire Council for non payment of council tax, and I was shocked to hear that more than 4,000 cases were sent to bailiffs by NELC last year for council tax alone.
Now what I also did not realise is that if you invite a bailiff into your home to try to work out a repayment package that bailiff then has the right to enter your property at any time to claim your possessions with or without your permission.
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This practice is in my view seriously outdated and to add the threat of losing your valuables and the fear of someone entering your own home at any time is surely just another ounce of misery to add onto some of the most vulnerable in our society.
Now I am aware there are two categories here, those who can't pay and those who won't pay so the carrot and the stick have to be in place, however, where is the carrot?
How is adding £70 court costs and then the bailiffs adding charges of hundreds of pounds going to make a person more able to pay?
And let's not forget the bailiffs then get paid by NELC to carry out this duty.
Let's look at their success rate in 2009-10: 4,753 cases were sent with a value of £2,654,589.78 and the council received back from Rossendale's £1,154,145.52, which is a 43 per cent repayment. Is this a success?
In my view we could offer an organisation such as the CAB the chance to work with a person before the bailiffs, and if they were successful using the carrot then we could pay the CAB the money we would normally be paying to the bailiffs.
I was once told that bailiffs are the second oldest profession and they bear a close similarity to the first (I will let your imagination do the rest). However, it is time to stop this outdated practice and for once and for all beat the bailiffs!
Jon-Paul Howarth, East Marsh Ward Councillor.