Council policy on use of bailiffs

Liverpool City Council has reiterated that it does not use bailiffs to collect debts from vulnerable people.

The clarification of its policy follows a call from the Children’s’ Society that councils should stop sending enforcement agents – bailiffs – to homes where there are children.

Councillor Frank Hont, cabinet member for social inclusion, fairness and equalities, said: “There are some people who simply refuse to pay council tax and engage with us and in those circumstances we have to use enforcement agents to collect debts in fairness to other council taxpayers. We would only do so as a last resort when all other methods have failed.

“But I want to make it absolutely clear that when we are aware that an individual or household is considered vulnerable that we will not use bailiffs.  And bailiffs are under strict instructions that if they discover that a person is vulnerable they must leave immediately – and they will also do so if there are only young people present in the house.

“There is a code of conduct  to which bailiffs must abide and they also have to follow the Minister of Justice national standards.

“I would want to stress that anybody who finds themselves in difficulties in paying council tax or other debts should contact the council immediately to discuss their situation and come to an arrangement to pay– don’t leave it until enforcement action is taken.”

People who are classed as vulnerable include

• Anyone incapable of entering into a legally enforceable agreement or of giving informed consent;
• Pregnant women or a recent parent

• Anyone incapable of entering into a legally enforceable agreement or of giving informed consent;

•  Those with long term sickness, serious illness or frailty;
•  People with a mental or physical disability
• Recently bereaved
•  People with  severe financial difficulties and/or on Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (IB), Universal Credit, Pension Credit or ESA;
• Where there appears to be a communication issue and the services of an interpreter or personal advocate are required.

However, there could be other situations where the person involved is classed as vulnerable with each case being considered on its merits.