Erewash Borough Council’s use of bailiffs is down on previous year

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Erewash Borough Council instructed bailiffs 3,558 times to collect debts owed by individuals and businesses during 2014/15.

The figures were released by the Money Advice Trust, the charity which runs National Debtline in response to a Freedom of Information request. Experts says the figure shows that more needs to be done to help those in financial difficulty earlier.

The research was conducted as part of National Debtline’s new Stop The Knock campaign and follows the release of official figures showing that Erewash Borough Council ended the 2014/15 year with £4.1 million in unpaid council tax arrears. The findings rank the council at 117 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales, relative to size of authority.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the MAT, said: “I would urge anyone in Erewash who is struggling to cope with council tax arrears, or any other type of debt, to seek free advice from National Debtline as soon as possible.”

The 3,558 bailiff referrals made by Erewash Borough Council in 2014/15 represents a decrease of one per cent on two years ago, when the council reported 3,596 referrals in the 2012 calendar year.

The charity is calling for bailiffs, now known legally as enforcement agents, to be used only as a last resort, with a greater focus on preventative work and early detection and intervention where residents and businesses fall behind.

Ian Sankey, director of resources and deputy chief executive of Erewash Borough Council, said: “The council has a duty to collect Council Tax on behalf of all residents and the collection rate in this borough is over 97 per cent.

“The number quoted by the National Debtline includes cases where multiple years debt for individual taxpayers is bracketed together for recovery purposes and so the actual number of referrals to enforcement agencies is much less.”