Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Children and Teenagers are Frightened by Bailiffs Collecting Council Tax - Report

There are 6777 children living in 3938 families who have faced council tax debt in Central Bedfordshire.

The Children’s Society report, “The Wolf at the Door” highlights how children and teenagers are feeling sad, frightened and worried after routinely coming face to face with bailiffs in their own homes, sent by the local council to demand sudden, unrealistic council tax payments.

Last year,  The Children’s Society say that 4302 households were referred to bailiffs in  Central Bedfordshire and that would be the equivalent of 38 bailiff visits for every 1,000 households.

The Children’s Society report “The Debt Trap” highlighted how a third of families in council tax arrears who sought help from their council found it not helpful at all, whilst their latest research shows that councils are often demanding the full year’s council tax amount just 14 days after a family or young person misses their first monthly bill, pushing court summons or the threat of bailiffs soon after.

Councils are under huge pressure to ensure that as much council tax revenue is collected as promptly as possible The report highlights good practice examples showing that councils can use less damaging techniques, protect children from bailiffs, and give families time to get independent advice. These methods at the same time can collect more in council tax than the national average.  The Children’s Society is encouraging more councils to adopt these practices and review their council tax collection policies to better protect children.

The Children’s Society has produced an advice sheet to help people who face council tax debt. See http://www.stepchange.org/Debtinformationandadvice/Typesofdebt/Counciltaxdebt.aspx

You can read the report, the advice note and find out more information about the Debt Trap campaign and the work of The Children’s Society by visiting http://childrenssociety.org.uk/counciltax

Advice Note for Councillors (pdf)