Oldham Liberal Democrats call for end to bailiff action against poorest council tax debtors

The Deputy Leader of the Oldham Liberal Democrat Group, and Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance, Councillor Chris Gloster, has written to the Council Deputy Leader, Councillor Abdul Jabbar, asking the Council to sign up to best practice standards in debt collection identified by the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and Money Advice Trust. These include ending the use of bailiffs and enforcement agents to collect debts from the poorest Council Tax payers.
Councillor Gloster explained: “On September 6, the National Audit Office published a report highlighting the fact that the debt collection practices in local and central government fall in many instances well behind the standards applied in the commercial lending sector. I want to see Oldham Council become a standard bearer for good practice in this field, especially as many of our residents are amongst the poorest in the country, being forced to live on a very limited income day-by-day whilst facing multiple debt problems.”
He added: “We all want to ensure that the Council’s Council Tax revenue is collected, but aggressive Council Tax collection practices have a cost to local authorities and to the individuals concerned. The use of bailiffs and collection agents rapidly add costs to debts and debtors are then likely to experience a decline in their mental or physical health, which in turn means they are more likely to call upon local authority or public health services. They are also increasingly likely to resort to more risky behaviours to settle the debt, for example, by taking out costly payday or door step loans.”
Councillor Gloster is asking Oldham Council to sign up to Citizen Advice Bureaux’s and LGA’s Council Tax Protocol to reduce the use of bailiffs and improve collection practices, and also to the ‘six steps for local authorities’ outlined in the Stop the Knock campaign of the Money Advice Trust.
Councillor Gloster has also asked Councillor Jabbar to look specifically at the example of best practice set by Lambeth Council when dealing with the debts of its poorest residents.
“In 2015/16, Lambeth chose not to use bailiffs or enforcement agents where debtors were in receipt of Council Tax Support. In 2016, a report from the Child Poverty Action Group found that Lambeth’s collection rate for Council Tax Support claimants went up by 13%, taking Lambeth from being a borough with one of the lowest collection rates to one of the highest!”

Published and promoted by Oldham Liberal Democrats, Booth House, Featherstall Road South, Oldham OL9 7TU. If you enter your details on this website, the Liberal Democrats, locally and nationally, may use information in it, including your political views, to further our objectives, share it with our elected representatives and/or contact you in future using any of the means provided. Some contacts may be automated. You may opt out of some or all contacts or exercise your other legal rights by contacting us. Further details are in our Privacy Policy at www.libdems.org.uk/privacy