Broxtowe Borough Council pledges to cut use of bailiffs to chase debts

A knock on the door from bailiffs, or enforcement agents, chasing up debts owed to the council.
A knock on the door from bailiffs, or enforcement agents, chasing up debts owed to the council.

Broxtowe Borough Council says it has already changed its policy after a new report revealed it sent bailiffs to collect almost 2,000 debts last year.

The Money Advice Trust charity, which compiled the report, says bailiffs, or enforcement agents, can cause more harm than good.

It is also urging the government to step in and implement a national strategy to reduce their use by councils across the country.

A spokesperson for Broxtowe council said: “We are committed to minimising the use of enforcement agents and only do this as a last resort in the collection of debts.

“Over the last two years, our record of using them has been less than the national average. This reduction follows several important initiatives to support those who are experiencing financial difficulties.

“We employ two officers to provide advice and support, and maintain a close working relationship with Citizens Advice Broxtowe.

“If any residents are struggling with their finances, they should get in touch with us to discuss what options are available to help them and prevent action being taken.”

The Money Advice Trust, which helps people manage their finances wisely, revealed that the council referred 1,886 debts to bailiffs in 2018/19, although this was 282 fewer, a 13 per cent drop, on two years earlier.

Bailiffs visit properties to remove and sell goods for the repayment of certain debts, including council-tax arrears, parking notices and others owed to the council.

Across England and Wales, there has been a seven per cent increase in the use of bailiffs by councils in the last two years, with 2.6 million cases.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the charity, said: “These findings concern us all. Bailiff action can be avoided by early intervention, providing free debt advice and agreeing affordable repayment arrangements.”