District council called on bailiffs almost 5,000 times

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New figures released show East Lindsey District Council called on bailiffs almost 5,000 times in the last financial year to collect debts owed by individuals and businesses.

ELDC used bailiffs 4,935 times during 2014-15, according to new research by the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline.

The findings rank East Lindsey District Council at 114 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales, relative to size of authority.

Neighbouring West Lindsey District Council, for example, called on bailiffs 1,300 times in the same period.

Experts says the figure, revealed by the councils in response to a Freedom of Information request, shows that more needs to be done to help those in financial difficulty at an earlier stage.

The research was conducted as part of National Debtline’s new ‘Stop The Knock’ campaign.

It follows the release of official figures last month showing that in the ELDC area in 2014-15 year, there was £4 million in unpaid council tax arrears.

ELDC’s portfolio holder for finance Coun Nick Guyatt said: “The district council has a very clear obligation to all taxpayers to ensure it does all it can to collect council tax to support the services the community receives from Lincolnshire County Council, Lincolnshire Police, town and parish councils and the district council itself.

“Over 97 per cent of households in East Lindsey pay their council tax on time. The council will always pursue those who don’t pay their council tax.

“Enforcement agents are only used to recover unpaid debts as a last resort.”

Before a debt reaches that stage significant support would have been offered to the resident or business concerned.”

Point of information – of the £4m you refer to only around 8% of this would be for the District Council – the remainder would have been passed onto Town and Parish Councils, Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire County Council as we collect Council Tax on their behalf.