Councils across Lancashire have sent bailiffs out 11,070 times to collect debts owed by individuals and businesses during 2014/15.
That’s according to new research by the Money Advice Trust, the charity which runs National Debtline.
If people are struggling to pay bills then we’d urge them to get in touch as we’ll be happy to discuss payment options with them.Coun Peter Wilson
Under Preston City Council there were 3,501 cases, Chorley Borough Council, 2978, Ribble Valley, 450, and Wyre, 4141. These figures relate to the period between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.
The process before a bailiff is sent is firstly a letter is sent to the debtor to make contact to discuss payment, then if there is no contact at least two SMS text messages are sent before a further letter is sent.
If there is still no contact the next step is for the enforcement agent to visit the property. Even at this stage a repayment plan may be agreed.
Coun Peter Wilson, Deputy Leader of Chorley Council, said: “If people are struggling to pay bills then we’d urge them to get in touch as we’ll be happy to discuss payment options with them.
“The increase is down to the number of people who have outstanding debts and this could be down to a number of reasons such as the effects of the recession and welfare reform.
“The statement from the Money Advice Trust gives the impression we are heavy-handed, which isn’t correct. When we know someone is finding it difficult to pay we work with them to see what can be done but there are times when we need to take action, not least because it would be unfair to the majority of residents who pay their council tax.”
The Money Advice Trust has expressed concerns as councils’ use of bailiffs has risen 122 per cent in two years. National Debtline - 0808 808 4000.