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Bailiff Advice

London Council to stop using bailiffs to collect council tax arrears. Debtors will be asked to pay what they can afford.

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The following news article featured on SCOOP today:

 

http://www.publicsectorexecutive.com/Public-Sector-News/london-council-to-launch-ethical-debt-collection-for-residents?dorewrite=false/Page-1749

 

 

London council to launch ‘ethical debt collection’ for residents Hammersmith and Fulham Council (H & F) have launched “ethical debt collections” service in a bid to reduce costs to residents.

 

The council are working with a private firm on the joint venture, setting out to both improve the way debtors are treated and save money on the cost of bailiffs.

 

The move is part of an effort to change the way public sector debts are handled, applying Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) standards in the same way as private debts.

 

“Heavy handed debt collection in the public sector is counter-productive. Court action, bailiffs and lawyers all cost money, and can create high levels of stress and anxiety in families that find themselves in debt,” commented Cllr Max Schmid, H&F cabinet member for finance.

 

“We are determined to offer an ethical approach to debt management that both helps residents at risk of falling into debt and saves money for taxpayers at a time of massive funding cuts from central government.”

 

From 1 April 2018, H & F will aim to ask only for what debtors can afford, based on expenditure assessments which will be agreed over a set period.

 

However, the council says the scheme “is not going to allow anyone who should be paying their taxes to avoid doing so”, with those who can afford to pay but refuse to do so being pursued through “more effective, and more ethical, legal means”.

 

The joint venture has already started taking over collections in the borough, beginning with former tenant arrears and housing benefit overpayments, while other types of debt will soon be phased in.

 

Cllr Schmid said there was a huge gulf in practices of debt collection between the private and public sector but that the council wanted to change that.

 

He added: “The consequences of poor debt collection practices put a strain on our council budgets as well as those across the public sector and can be devastating to the wellbeing of families affected.

 

“In addition, costs of temporary accommodation, increased demand on temporary housing, social services and education services, affects physical and mental healthcare – can all result from heavy-handed use of bailiffs, putting a strain on the public purse.”

 

 

https://www.scoop.it/t/lacef-news

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I hope the experiment works out. Certainly good news for the can't afford to pays and credit to the Council for the attempt. It will be interesting to see how they resolve how they differentiate between can't afford to pays and those who don't want to pay and then how to get the don't want to pays to pay.

 

Judging by the comments of the Councillor they are not happy with the bailiffs they have used so one can only hope that their new method is a success which may encourage other Councils to look at alternatives. Are you listening Capita?

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The news article only tells some of the story I'm afraid.

 

As I understand it, the council have entered into a joint venture agreement with a well know Debt Collection agency. As to how that relationship is to work and how the collection company are paid...that is another story.

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The news article only tells some of the story I'm afraid.

 

As I understand it, the council have entered into a joint venture agreement with a well know Debt Collection agency. As to how that relationship is to work and how the collection company are paid...that is another story.

 

The joint venture agreement is with the debt purchasing company; 1st Credit. The joint venture is called H&F Ethical Debt Collections.

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oh well 1st credit can be totally ignored then


..

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You say that dx100uk, but if the Council figures are to be believed bailiffs collected £848,000 from 3,682 Council tax payers last year who owed over £3 million. In the trial period over the last three years using 1st Credit , 763 tax payers have been contacted and £798,000 has been collected. On the face of it 1st Credit looks the better bet though we do not know the difference in charges and fees between the two systems.

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a dca cant charge anything

they are powerless

 

ignore them

deal with the council concerned directly

 

but it does show [like all the Scottish councils that use DCA's as there aren't any bailiffs under scottish law]

people will fall for any ole twaddle written in a letter and don't read the letters properly..

 

saves on bailiff fees mind...


..

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You say that dx100uk, but if the Council figures are to be believed bailiffs collected £848,000 from 3,682 Council tax payers last year who owed over £3 million. In the trial period over the last three years using 1st Credit , 763 tax payers have been contacted and £798,000 has been collected. On the face of it 1st Credit looks the better bet though we do not know the difference in charges and fees between the two systems.

 

I don't believe that the £798,000 recovered was in relation to council tax arrears. I did attend a presentation regarding this subject a while ago and it is my understanding that the collection of council tax arrears is due to be phased in around mid 2018.

 

I'm not entirely sure what the £798,00 relates to and the following press article doesn't help either:

 

This new venture continues a move, which started in October 2015, to help residents in the borough avoid getting into troubling debt situations with the council.

 

Since then, our Rental Income Team recruited three new staff members tasked with advising residents on managing their accounts with the council.

 

Since then, the team has dealt with 763 local residents to generate £798,000 in extra income for the council, while helping residents avoid the stress of falling into debt.

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a dca cant charge anything

they are powerless

 

ignore them

deal with the council concerned directly

 

but it does show [like all the Scottish councils that use DCA's as there aren't any bailiffs under scottish law]

people will fall for any ole twaddle written in a letter and don't read the letters properly..

 

saves on bailiff fees mind...

 

That is the point. If dealing with 1st credit is to simply pay a council tax liability without incurring any bailiff fees or being faced with other enforcements options, then that should be welcomed.

 

I should imagine the deal is, that 1st credit can take say 10p from every £1 collected and not have to pass the money over to the council until the end of each quarter. If 1st credit then earn interest from their bank from having the money in their accounts for 3 months, then that is a bonus. It might only be c.£800k at the moment, but if 1st credit make it work, then other councils would take this up, turning it into a decent part of their business.

 

The problem with bailiff enforcement in regard to LO's or many debts in general, is that many peoplle don't have much spare money. Pointless adding £310 in bailiff fees making peoples lifes more difficult and still not recovering money for the creditor.


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