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Financial hardship concerns remain unaddressed as bailiff visits resume

​24 August 2020


The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, has welcomed the government’s last-minute announcement of public health guidance for bailiff visits – but says that concerns around the impact of bailiff action on households dealing with the financial consequences of Covid-19 remain unaddressed.

On Friday evening the Ministry of Justice published public health guidance for bailiffs, now known legally as enforcement agents, to follow as the government’s 5-month emergency ban on visits comes to an end.  The move follows concerns raised by debt advice charities over the resumption of bailiff visits on public health and financial hardship grounds.

Jane Tully, Director of External Affairs at the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:

We are relieved the government has put in place much-needed public health guidance for bailiffs to follow, but this only addresses some of the concerns that have been raised over the resumption of bailiff visits.

“As households continue to struggle with the impact of Covid-19, the fact bailiffs can now resume visits risks making bad situations worse.  The government should urgently introduce changes to the way council tax debts are collected, in particular, to reduce the use of bailiffs in the first place – and finally bring forward plans for an independent regulator for bailiffs and bailiff firms.

Bailiff reform is long overdue, and the outbreak of Covid-19 has brought the need for independent regulation of the bailiff industry into sharp focus.  Without fundamental reform – and an independent regulator to make sure that guidance of the kind published on Friday is actually followed – households will remain at risk.”

 
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