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MAT comments on changes to the bailiff sector

Commenting on the new rules for bailiffs announced by the Ministry of Justice today, Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said:
“We are pleased the Government sees fit to improve bailiff practices, but are concerned little will change as a result of today’s announcement. Advice charities like ours have worked long and hard with successive Governments to try and resolve the bad practice from bailiffs that our advisers hear on an ever increasing basis. Unfortunately the changes announced today do not tackle our most basic concerns about protecting vulnerable people from bad practice.
“There remains no independent oversight of the bailiff industry, no independent complaints body to make it easy for people to report bad practice, and no clear sanctions for bailiffs who break the rules. Additionally, there is no clarity that the new fee structure will not increase what bailiffs can charge people in debt.
“Whilst it is right and welcome that bailiffs cannot visit properties before 6am or after 9pm, or when only children are home, our experience is that this only happens in extremely rare circumstances, and there are plenty of much more widespread problems that could and should have been addressed.
“Bailiffs have an important role to play in collecting debts, mostly for local authorities. However the frequent bad practice we see in the industry tarnishes their reputation and weakens their ability to play a positive role in making sure debts are repaid fully and in a sustainable manner, these announcements represent a missed opportunity to change that.”
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