Councils resorting to bailiffs too often, Citizens Advice warns

A report by Citizens Advice has accused councils in England of being too quick to resort to sending in bailiffs to recover council tax debts.

The report found that some councils had added extra charges to bills, and taken court action in order to prompt payment from residents, instead of attempting to arrange manageable repayment plans. It warned that the effect of these methods only acted to push people in financial difficulty even further into debt.

Citizens Advice also cited cases where council tax payers who had missed a monthly payment were required to the pay the whole of the remaining cost for the year in one instalment. The report has called for this practice to be stopped.

Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizens Advice: “Of course it's right people should repay their council tax - but calling in bailiffs, adding on extra charges or forcing someone to pay the rest of the year's council tax bill in one lump sum can make the situation worse for everyone.”

Responding to the comments made by Citizen Advice, a spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said: “Councils have a duty to their residents to collect taxes, so important services are not affected.”

“But we realise that times are tough, and councils do their best to protect those affected the most, whether through introducing hardship funds or taking a sympathetic and constructive approach to the way we collect unpaid tax."