Lambeth Council use of bailiffs on the rise again

23 January 2019

Green Party urges council to follow the lead of other councils and end the use of bailiffs for all cases of council tax arrears

 

Information uncovered by Lambeth’s Green Group of councillors has uncovered that the use of bailiffs by Lambeth Council has hit a four year high, causing added misery to some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents.

 

A Member’s Enquiry by Green Group leader, Councillor Jonathan Bartley (St Leonard’s) found that the number of cases referred to bailiffs by the council increased from 8,653 cases in 2015-16 to 13,395 in 2017-18.

 

In 2015 Lambeth Council agreed to end the use of bailiffs against those in receipt of Council Tax Support (CTS) after Green Councillor Scott Ainslie highlighted that the practice was pushing Lambeth’s poorest residents into further hardship. [1] [2] However, the Council now appear to have U-turned on this policy with 1,504 CTS cases being referred to the Council’s enforcement agency Equita last financial year.



 

Cases issued to Enforcement Agents

Fin Year

non-CTS

CTS

Total

2013-14

12,828

2,376

15,204

2014-15

8,913

1,117

10,030

2015-16

8,653

0

8,653

2016-17

9,910

0

9,910

2017-18

11,891

1,504

13,395

 

52,195

4,997

57,192

 

The council previously accepted that by ending the costly use of bailiffs and significantly reducing court summonses, it could reduce its own costs while increasing collection rates. This led to a fall in the use of bailiffs.  However, their use is now once again on the rise.

 

Green Group leader Councillor Jonathan Bartley said:

 

“After some progress, Lambeth Council appears to once again be heading in the wrong direction. The excessive use of bailiffs is hitting Lambeth’s most vulnerable residents hardest and causing significant levels of stress and anxiety. Many people feel threatened by receiving letters, texts and phone calls from companies like Equita and are so concerned about avoiding a bailiff turning up on their doorstep that they either end up agreeing to repayment plans that they can’t sustain or borrowing money from unscrupulous lenders at very high interest rates.

 

“The Council should not be wasting money on costly court summons and fees which they are unlikely to recoup and will heap misery and hardship on those in terrible financial difficulty already. Lambeth should be following the example of councils like Hammersmith and Fulham Council who are endeding the use of bailiffs for all cases of council tax arrears.” [3]  

 

The Green Party became the official opposition on Lambeth Council in May 2018, and are London’s largest Green council grouping.

 

Notes

 

[1] https://lambeth.greenparty.org.uk/news/2016/11/08/lambth-council-bows-to-green-pressure-to-stop-using-bailiffs-on-lambeths-poorest/

 

[2] https://lambeth.greenparty.org.uk/news/2015/01/20/greens-urge-lambeth-to-call-off-the-bailiffs-for-council-tax-support-claimants/


[3] http://democracy.lbhf.gov.uk/documents/s98473/Policy%20changes%20to%20the%20collection%20of%20council%20tax%20arrears.pdf






RSS Feed Lambeth Green Party RSS Feed

Back to main page

Lambeth Green Party

Sign up for updates

Please enter your name, email address and postcode below to sign up for regular news and campaign updates from the Green Party in your area. We send messages about once a fortnight - slightly more often during election periods.

We'll keep your details safe and won't pass your information on to anyone else.

You'll receive a confirmation email shortly afterwards to activate your subscription.