Bailiffs return but are told not to shout

A report from BBC News has reported Bailiffs that are resuming operations in England and Wales are being told to keep their voices down to protect against coronavirus transmission.

They will be chasing unpaid council tax after a five-month suspension.

Debt charities have warned of a surge in cases, prompting financial and health risks.

But a trade body for the sector said vital public services would be affected if councils were unable to collect money that has been owed for months.

From Monday, authorities are able to use bailiffs – officially known as enforcement agents – to pursue unpaid bills such as council tax or parking fines.

The debts now being chased would have been unpaid before the coronavirus lockdown.

About half of councils have approved agents to be sent out again, under the stricter guidance required owing to social distancing.

They are being told not to enter homes to take items except in exceptional circumstances and where it is safe. The policy will be reviewed in line with government and public health guidance.

Growing problem

Charities have expressed their concerns that the economic fall-out from the coronavirus crisis could be made worse for some people being pursued by bailiffs.

Jane Tully, from the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, called for greater protection of those in debt from the government, or an extension to the suspension.

“There is a real risk of a surge in bailiff action relating to council tax and other debts over the coming months, which poses both financial and public health risks,” she said.