Figures revealed by a freedom of information request show that the use of bailiffs to collect council owed cash is on the rise.
Last year Magistrates Courts in England and Wales granted over 3.5 million Council Tax Liability Orders to local authorities giving them the right to take legal action, including the use of bailiffs (Enforcement Agents) to collect unpaid tax.
With local councils under increasing financial pressure, and with forthcoming changes to the welfare system, this number is set to rise, as they crack down on collecting unpaid Council Tax in order to raise much needed funds.
Council issued liability orders rose last in Aylesbury Vale from 4461 in 2015/16 to 4917 in 2017/18.
That works out as 13 every day, on average.
There has also been a massive rise in bailiffs and enforcement agencies being used to collect council owed cash over the last two years.
In 2016/17 bailiffs were used 1882 times, but last year, 2017/18 bailiffs were required to collect money owed 2137 times.
Councillor Howard Mordue, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said:
“In the last two years, there has been no change in our unpaid council tax collection policy, including our minimum level to issue a summons remaining at £50. Although we issued more summons in 2017/2018, we also reduced or removed the costs in over 600 cases to the sum of £148k. This was where hardship or vulnerability were shown to be a factor.
“Once a liability order is granted, our officers will check to see if we can apply deductions from benefits or attachment of earnings before referring to our Enforcement Agents.
“It’s worth noting that we primarily use our own internal Enforcement Agents, as they provide a more rounded service than the private companies. For example, they will make referrals to the Debt Advice team or to our Benefits team if they consider it appropriate.
“We also work closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau who can give advice to those who are having debt problems. A decision to use our Enforcement team is never taken lightly and is always used as a last resort.”