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People trapped in debt run the risk of being visited by bailiffs (stock image)

People trapped in debt being targeted by bailiffs

A steady stream of people is going to the Citizens Advice with debt and other issues relating to the use of bailiffs by local authorities in the Canterbury area.

In the six months to the end of September, the CA (Citizens Advice) recorded a monthly average of 14.5 requests for help raised with them by members of the public regarding council tax arrears, benefit repayments and parking fines.

June and September were the busiest months in which 22 people in each period sought assistance. July was the quietest when the level fell to 16.

The greatest area of concern was ‘dealing with debt repayments’ in relation to council tax arrears where bailiffs had been sent round.

This prompted 41 people to seek help over the six-month period. The next most concerning area was dealing with debt repayments in relation to overpayments of housing benefit and council tax benefit — issues which propelled 15 people to request advice from the charity.

The third main area stirred 12 people to go to the CA office in Westgate Hall Road and related to the liability to pay council tax.

In total, 18 people raised issues with the CA about how the bailiffs had dealt with them. These included the fees and charges they levied, their  treatment of vulnerable debtors, offers of payment and taking control of goods.

Unpaid parking penalties is a common reason why bailiffs are sent round to people’s houses. The liability to pay such fines was an issue in six cases over the six-month period. Dealing with the debt was an issue raised 12 times.

A firm called Dukes Bailiffs represent local authorities in east Kent. Advertising themselves and their 25-year record in the field under the slogan “Ethical Enforcement Since 1993”, Dukes act for various other local authorities across the country including Birmingham City Council and the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

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