The pressure of keeping up with council tax payments can be stressful, particularly given the financial squeeze being applied to people up and down the country.
You would think that paying regular instalments would be enough to keep the threat of bailiffs from your door, but this was not the case for 72 year-old Ann Delaney of Prestwich.
The disabled pensioner has complained about the conduct of a Birkenhead-based firm of bailiffs, who sent her a series of late-night letters demanding an additional council tax bill of £255 despite the fact that she had managed to reduce her debt from £1,000 to £50 by making regular payments.
She was twice sent letters by the debt collectors, contracted to work as bailiffs by Bury Council, after 10pm, leaving her feeling intimated and powerless to do anything until the following morning. It is even claimed that the bailiffs even went as far as walking into her house and noting down what valuables she had in her possession.
An outraged Ms Delaney, who suffers from arthritis and severe back pain, said of her ordeal: “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
“Fortunately I complained to the council and they cancelled the £255 payment and I have nearly settled my account.”
It was a change in personal circumstance in 2008 that saw Ms Delaney fall into council tax debt the following year; however since then she has been able to start paying it off.
However, bailiff involvement over the £255 bill resurfaced this year, when they claimed the pensioner was four days late with a payment.
Ms Delaney remains adamant that she had successfully negotiated a repayment plan with the council, adding: “I paid every week without fail.”
A spokesman for the firm of bailiffs maintained that they had investigated the issue and “had worked with the council to resolve it.”
He added: “All enforcement agents carry formal identification, in addition to their county court certificate and full details of the debt we are collecting on behalf of the council.
“Fees are applied in accordance with the Taking Control of Goods (fees) Regulations 2014.”
Bury Council stressed that the number of complaints they receive regarding council tax debt enforcement are minimal, but did state that will review any action or fees if the circumstances warrant it, as turned out to be the case here.
It is important to remember that there is independent help and advice available if you are struggling with your council tax arrears or are concerned at the threat of bailiff involvement in collecting unpaid council tax. Council Tax Advisors (CTA) have helped over 10,000 people resolve their council tax issues to date, so don’t hesitate to contact them if you find yourself in a position like this.