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Hard hitting report from the CAB: Local Authorities are "allowing bailiff aggression"


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The above report from the CAB is very serious indeed and from personal experience (work wise) and from posts on this forum there can be little doubt that the report is accurate.

 

Given the seriousness of this report I am very disappointed to read the following comment from CIVEA ( the bailiff industries 'trade body' ) :

 

 

"This is based upon distorted facts, the use of pseudo statistical analysis and highly emotive and inappropriate language," said Steven Everson, director general of the association.

 

"This self-selecting sample of 500 unhappy individuals cannot be extrapolated to imply that it reflects the situation amongst the general population of debtors."

 

With respect, the 'highly emotive' and 'inappropriate language' has come from Dr Everson himself.

 

Dr Everson will be leaving CIVEA in April and I really do hope that his replacement will look towards "working with" and not "working against" the advice sector.

Edited by tomtubby
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Hi

What would you expect from CIVEA? I read this in the early hours on the BBC website.

 

Instead of trying to blacken the report, deal with the issues.

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"Bailiffs are only ever used by local authorities as a last resort to tackle persistent non-payment and councils only charge fees that cover the costs they incur in processing each liability order." Quoted from the BBC article

 

Seems like if it is a council with a Crapita infestation, and Equita or Ross 'n Robbers as the contracted bailiffs, theen a Liability order and bailiffs could well be a first option. Bailiffs and removal of goods for debt is sooooo 12th century, as back in those days goods had a resale value, today, things are cheaper therefore distress and sale is relatively useless for recouping debt, apart from the threat of removal.

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Hi

What would you expect from CIVEA? I read this in the early hours on the BBC website.

 

Instead of trying to blacken the report, deal with the issues.

 

 

Even if they had made a simple comment such as the following it would have helped:

 

On behalf of our members we are disappointed at the findings from this report. We are committed to reforming the bailiff industry and tackling 'aggresive' behaviour and CIVEA will be reviewing the report closely.

 

I hope that Dr Everson's replacement will not have such a distain for the 'advice sector'.

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The charity claims that councils can make the debts worse by adding on charges.

 

It said there was a huge variation in these costs in different areas of England and Wales.

There is a huge variation in these costs even within the same local authority.

 

Hull City Council for example, allows its bailiff firms to charge three different standard fees for a "van attendance", with the highest (£167) being 40% more than the lowest (£120).

 

In a FoI request made to HCC, it was asked for a copy of the relevant legislation providing that a bailiff firm contracted to enforce council tax may add to their "Attendance" fees, an element above what is reasonably incurred in order to profit from providing the service.

 

Bearing in mind it is lawful to recover only "reasonable costs and fees incurred", it admitted that there was no relevant legislation regarding bailiffs charges.

 

EDIT:

 

There are worse cases where within the same council, a wider range of standard charges for the van attendance are permitted.

Edited by outlawla
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Bearing in mind it is lawful to recover only "reasonable costs and fees incurred", it admitted that there was no relevant legislation regarding bailiffs charges.

 

And therin is the nub, there was no intention in the legislation to provide for a profit for a private contractor within the fee structure, Reasonable Costs being basically actuals incurred in the course of enforcement,

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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From the many years of doing the work that I do it is CLEAR to me that local authorities are abusing the statutory regulations by charging "summons costs" and 'fees" that are much more than they have 'actually incurred' and bailiff companies are abusing the statutory regulations by the application of 'attending to remove' fees.

 

What must be remembered is that with council tax debts, an ATR fee is charged is approx 75% of cases and yet.....goods are only ever removed in LESS that 0.1% of cases !!!! What is going on.........

 

It is noteworthy that the government have NOT released the statutory fee scale that is due to be implemented from April 6th !!! This was due in 'autumn' and then delayed until December.

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What must be remembered is that with council tax debts, an ATR fee is charged is approx 75% of cases and yet.....goods are only ever removed in LESS that 0.1% of cases !!!! What is going on.........

 

It is noteworthy that the government have NOT released the statutory fee scale that is due to be implemented from April 6th !!! This was due in 'autumn' and then delayed until December.

 

Will this new structure make debt even more unaffordable for "can't pays" and people already drowning in debt or will it be tears before bedtime, and crying into their beer for bailiffs?

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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Here is a link to the CAB report

 

http://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/council_tax_arrears_councils_and_bailiffs_final.pdf

 

One "experience" quoted from the report

 

"‘I absolutely hate them, they insisted on entering my property even though I wasn't even

properly dressed. I had a 2 year old child present and they were really intimidating. The

amount of council tax was wrong because I had not been given a single parent discount

but the council still would not stop the action. They took all my furniture and pictures and

only raised about £200 from the sale’

‘I have made repeated complaints to [council] and, even when continuing to make

payments, have had charges for visits to my property that were not required.’"

 

Evidence they are out of control?

 

Increasing a small debt; how £21 became £251, from the report:

 

"A CAB in the South of England saw a young man who was concerned about the

levy applied by Bailiffs who arrived at his home over a debt of £21 in respect of

council tax arrears. The council had been to court and the fees increased to £101.

The bailiffs’ fees were then added, taking the total to £251 including a bailiff charge

of £150.

 

A CAB in the East of England reported the case of a woman who had been visited

by bailiffs collecting arrears of council tax. The bailiffs did not gain entry but left a bill

for £297.30. The original debt to the council £17.80, to which the council had added

an enforcement fee of £65, leaving a debt of £82.80 passed to the bailiffs, who

then added £214.20 in charges."

 

Prima facie evidence as uncovered by Outlawla with NELC that the LO and bailiff seems to be the de-facto remedy in most if not all cases

Edited by brassnecked
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Prima facie evidence as uncovered by Outlawla with NELC that the LO and bailiff seems to be the de-facto remedy in most if not all cases

 

Hello there.

 

From our statistics 1 in 4 callers in October 2013 had council tax arrears. Whilst I don't have specific figures as to the number of times bailiffs have been instructed from experience it is generally the case that they are involved by the time a caller contacts us. We've seen a 25% increase in council tax-related queries in the past year alone. Our parent organisation undertook some FOI requests earlier in the year, you may have seen this data before (either from ourselves or from other sources) but it's always useful to post up again: http://www.moneyadvicetrust.org/media/news/Pages/Local-Authorities-and-Bailiffs0821-6215.aspx

 

Given our experiences with our callers, I would agree that bailiff enforcement is the defacto enforcement option of choice for the vast majority of local authorities.

 

Best wishes,

 

David @ NDL.

For Free, Confidential and Independent advice: 0808 808 4000

Monday - Friday 9am to 9pm // Saturday 9.30am to 1pm // 24-hour voicemail. Please leave a message to request an information pack. http://www.nationaldebtline.org // http://www.mymoneysteps.org

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David at National Debtline, It is a sorry situation where a Local Authority seeks to profit from those who cannot afford the council tax with extra egregious fees on top imho.

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Durham Council are one of the worse offenders that I have come across. Their attitude is one of contempt as well.

 

 

3 different agents, all charging separate "van visit" fees, 2 of which don't charge Head H.

 

 

The poor old debtor really is placed into a lottery to determine how much he will be fleeced.

 

 

Some of the more caring councils place restrictions on what bailiffs may charge (usually in line with the LGO) which means that it doesn't matter which bailiff company is deployed, the fees passed on to the debtor are standardised.

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Bet if the bailiffs are Bristols & Hooters, they will ignore the LA and charge what they like Ian.

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And therin is the nub, there was no intention in the legislation to provide for a profit for a private contractor within the fee structure, Reasonable Costs being basically actuals incurred in the course of enforcement,

 

I would disagree with this brassnecked, as reasonable costs include a reasonable profit (as per Alex Daheyn's report) which he/MoJ deem at 10%.

 

Whether the costs charged by the industry are reasonable is a different argument however.

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I would disagree with this brassnecked, as reasonable costs include a reasonable profit (as per Alex Daheyn's report) which he/MoJ deem at 10%.

 

Whether the costs charged by the industry are reasonable is a different argument however.

 

10% profit is a dream for many these days, with squeezed margins, 5% or an overall loss may be reality for many, leading to business for you to collect off the defaulter when they cannot pay the bills.

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I would disagree with this brassnecked, as reasonable costs include a reasonable profit (as per Alex Daheyn's report) which he/MoJ deem at 10%.

 

Whether the costs charged by the industry are reasonable is a different argument however.

 

 

The problem with AD's report is that it was FLAWED from the outset. You will know as well as I do that almost all enforcement companies did NOT open their books and records to AD. It was also difficult for him to ascertain true P/L figures given that most companies only publish small company accounts.

 

The other stumbling block was that AD also failed to contact sufficient firms from the 'advice sector' to understand where the true problems lay.

 

You may remember that he also published an earlier report that was ripped to shreds by the 'enforcement industry'.

 

PS: Xmas Eve and still no word from MOJ with the remaining two statutory regulations (fees and certification and training). Personally, I am not too bothered as I would much prefer to have regulations that are right.

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PS: Xmas Eve and still no word from MOJ with the remaining two statutory regulations (fees and certification and training). Personally, I am not too bothered as I would much prefer to have regulations that are right.

 

Most definitely. Just so long as they do get them right.

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Most definitely. Just so long as they do get them right.

 

It's difficult to believe that after working on these regulations for so long they leave everything until the last minute and bulldozer regulations through that are only 90% finished.

 

Whilst I appreciate we sit on different sides of the fence on some issues, this is just ridiculous for all stakeholders.

 

Forgetting the industry sector at the moment, as a business, we are still supposed to make huge changes to our model, including significant IT systems changes, with just a a few months notice. Staff moral is at an all time low as most of them have no idea whether they'll have a job in the summer. I know this will not be met with much sympathy on here but it's just plain ineptness by the Government as usual.

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It's difficult to believe that after working on these regulations for so long they leave everything until the last minute and bulldozer regulations through that are only 90% finished.

 

Whilst I appreciate we sit on different sides of the fence on some issues, this is just ridiculous for all stakeholders.

 

Forgetting the industry sector at the moment, as a business, we are still supposed to make huge changes to our model, including significant IT systems changes, with just a a few months notice. Staff moral is at an all time low as most of them have no idea whether they'll have a job in the summer. I know this will not be met with much sympathy on here but it's just plain ineptness by the Government as usual.

HCEOs you take time to come on here and give good advice from the enforcement side, and yes we may disagree on some things, one thing we are agreed on is that the main cause of complaint is where the bailiff is naughty. But yes it is unfair on yourself and staff if they keep moving the goalposts at short notice, and introduce a pigs ear of a Bill.

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I would disagree with this brassnecked, as reasonable costs include a reasonable profit (as per Alex Daheyn's report) which he/MoJ deem at 10%.

 

Whether the costs charged by the industry are reasonable is a different argument however.

 

 

It's actually "reasonable costs INCURRED" as far as Head C is concerned.

 

 

How can it be deemed reasonable for the same company to charge £110 in one area, £130 in another and £150 in a third?

 

 

If £110 is deemed reasonable and the bailiff company are happy to carry out a visit for this figure, then the extra £40 that residents of another area are being charged cannot also be reasonable.

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How can it be deemed reasonable for the same company to charge £110 in one area, £130 in another and £150 in a third? If £110 is deemed reasonable and the bailiff company are happy to carry out a visit for this figure, then the extra £40 that residents of another area are being charged cannot also be reasonable.

 

This should come down to the costs of running a particular business. I know that our costs are very different to our competitors. This is largely based on the type of work undertaken, geography and workload. AD looked at this in his report and as far as I'm aware had a lot more access than tomtubby has suggested.

 

However, when it comes to LA debt, the fee will be down to what they believe is reasonable and not based on the costs of the business providing the service.

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Many LA's do not give a damn about what is reasonable though & turn a blind eye to the charges that debtors incur at the hands of bailiff companies.

 

 

To leave a bailiff company at liberty to decide what they want to charge is asking for trouble.

 

 

One or two bailiff companies DO imo charge fees in line with legislation & LGO recommendations, Rundles spring to mind for example. Sadly, the vast majority are out to fleece the debtor for what they can, reliant on the debtors ignorance of legislation & their rights.

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