Council Criticised for Unnecessary Bailiff Visits

A Government watchdog have criticised Sutton Council for a recent mistake with bailiffs visiting a woman’s house because of an admin mistake on their end. Failing to update her direct debt details despite being told about the change in July 2013, a local woman was accused of not paying her council tax before receiving a visit from bailiffs seeking to settle the debt.

Because of the confusion, the bailiff visit resulted in hundreds of pounds of fees also being applied, with the woman not even being told about the visit ahead of time. The way in which the situation played out has been heavily criticised by the Local Government Ombudsman for the initial mistake, for the irrelevant fees being applied and for the reported conduct of the visiting bailiff.

The woman, a self-employed antique dealer, said: “The whole situation was upsetting and distressing. The council’s behaviour is disgusting, and the bailiff’s conduct was really out of order. If they have done this to me, they could be doing it to loads of other people as well.”

Results of the investigation concluded that the council are responsible for the bailiff’s actions despite the fact the case was passed over to debt collectors, and bailiffs should never have been sent without first notifying the debtor and informing her that her direct debit details were incorrect before action was taken. It has been recommended that Sutton Council pay £150 compensation, as well as review all complaints regarding bailiff fees made over the last year.

For those experiencing issues with council tax or unwanted bailiff action, there is help out there. Council Tax Advisors are a friendly and professional service specialising in helping those households currently struggling to keep up with their council tax payments, and can offer guidance and practical help for those in need. With rising fees and cuts to support, it is becoming increasingly common for people to experience these problems, and more and more important for them to seek the help they require as soon as possible.

Cases such as this are rare, but many ordinary people are facing huge debts because of their financial struggles, and newly introduced bailiff fees have meant that any debt collection action can only add to the mounting problem. To seek advice on how to resolve council tax debt and avoid the stress and worry of bailiff visits, contact Council Tax Advisors today.

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