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Bailiffs are charging excessive fees and not explaining their charges to debtors when acting for councils, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) has warned. In a report issued today the LGO has warned councils they have to take responsibility for their bailiffs’ actions, and ensure complaints are handled properly. The LGO has not named individual councils or bailiff firms in today’s report but a spokesperson referred to individual cases it has previously publicised, including Blaby District Councll and Slough Borough Council, as examples of a recurring trend which prompted the report.


Today’s report highlights other cases that resulted in serious injustice to individual debtors including one case where a debtor was charged three fees amounting to £405 without any explanation. When the LGO obtained an explanation of the charges from the council involved, they found the debtor had been overcharged by £300 plus VAT. In another case, bailiffs charged a ‘van fee’ for attending a property with a vehicle to remove goods, as they are entitled to do, but in this case the van fee was charged when the bailiffs had not entered a property or removed any goods.


The LGO has also warned that councils must improve their approach to the use of bailiffs where potentially vulnerable debtors are concerned. “Sometimes a bailiff may be the first person acting on behalf of the council to meet the debtor,” said Dr Jane Martin, Ombudsman and chair of the LGO. “The bailiff may be the first person to realise the debtor is vulnerable. It is essential that bailiffs are alert to possible vulnerability and that they report any concerns back to the council.” The Ombudsman has found fault in a higher proportion of complaints that involve bailiff action than in other complaints about local taxation or parking enforcement.


It cited recent figures suggesting 31% of complaints involving bailiffs had a remedy proposed, compared with only 23% of other complaints about local taxation and parking enforcement. The government has issued a response to today’s report. Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: “Councils equally need to show compassion towards the vulnerable and recognise individual cases of hardship. “The use of bailiffs should also be a last resort, they should not be commissioned disproportionately and councils should take direct responsibility for them.”


Links: http://www.credittoday.co.uk/article/14619/online-news/councils-warned-on-bailiff-use


To read the LGO report in full: http://www.lgo.org.uk/news/2012/nov/lgo-highlights-problems-bailiff-action-behalf-councils/

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a bailiff realising a person is vulnerable ha ha ha that would be a first. But a very good article and nice to see councils being reminded of their responsibilities

I know my rights Mr DCA I'm with the CAG......hello hello where you gone Mr DCA8)

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