Council defends using bailiffs

Date:27th June 2013.'An image to illustrate a bailiff knocking on someones door.
Date:27th June 2013.'An image to illustrate a bailiff knocking on someones door.

Kirklees Council has responded to calls from a children’s charity for local authorities to stop using bailiffs to recover council tax debt from households with children.

The Children’s Society has said that using bailiffs to recover money from young families can frighten children, but the council insisted this was only used as a last resort.

A council spokeswoman said: “We carefully balance the need to collect council tax from every liable household to fund essential council services to our most vulnerable residents, against recovery action that is undertaken to address non-payment. The council runs a reduction scheme to offer benefit support to those on the lowest income, and anyone struggling to keep up to their payments should call us on 01484 414900.

“If a family contacts us early enough then there is no need for a bailiff to visit.

“Sending a bailiff is only undertaken at the end of a long sequence of recovery action, and early in the process we invite anyone struggling to pay their council tax to speak with us so we may make a suitable repayment arrangement.”

The Children’s Society this week claimed that councils in Yorkshire and The Humber sent bailiffs to chase unpaid council tax 134,000 times last year – leaving children frightened and worried.

A Freedom of Information request by the charity showed Kirklees has 11,497 children living in households which have experienced council tax debt.

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society said: “Every child and teenager deserves to feel safe in their own home without being scared of the next knock at the door.”