Charity urges West Suffolk councils to reduce their reliance on bailiffs to collect debts

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West Suffolk House ENGANL00120130105142248
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Councils in West Suffolk need to do more to reduce their reliance on bailiffs to collect unpaid debts, a charity has warned.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council instructed bailiffs 1,797 times to collect debts during 2014/15 - a decrease of 17 per cent on two years ago.

Meanwhile, Forest Heath District Council called on bailiffs 1,506 times - a six per cent drop on two years ago.

The figures were revealed by the Money Advice Trust, the charity which runs National Debtline.

Despite the reductions, it argues that more needs to be done to help those in financial difficulty at an earlier stage.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Trust, said: “On the front line of debt advice we know that sending the bailiffs in can deepen debt problems rather than solve them - and it can also have a severe impact on the wellbeing of people who are already in a vulnerable situation.”

A council spokesman said the Anglia Revenues Partnership launched an in-house debt-collection service in July to ‘protect vulnerable residents from hikes in debt collection fees while ensuring council tax is collected’. They added that it allows ARP to engage directly with debtors in difficulties.