There was a news article on BBC Breakfast this morning, about councils’ use of bailiffs, and the bullying tactics employed by them.
Well, let me tell you about my friend’s experience….
My friend, T, and I’ll give no more detail than that, for the sake of her privacy, is a straight down the line person. As is her brother, C. In fact, I’d go so far as to say, he’s more “straight down the line” than she is. He has never had any of the problems with debt that some of us have encountered along the way. (Not because he’s a millionaire, he’s just a straight up kind of kind of guy.)
Their Mum died a few years ago, so her house was left empty. They paid council tax until one of the other brothers moved in for a while and it became his responsibility. He moved out, so it became C’s responsibility again. The house has been empty – and on the market – for a year. C, being the straight up guy that he is, has been on the ‘phone to the council to let them know the state of play. He’s been doing what he thinks is right. I think he’s right to let the council know the situation too.
Guess what happened next? The council gave the debt to bailiffs… Without as much as a kiss my butt or a by your leave. Or, even a letter to tell C that was what they are going to do.
C, being the sensitive soul that he is, was mortified. Quite prepared to take money from his savings to pay the whole bill and wait until the house is sold to get his money back.
“No way,” says sister T.
“I’ve had enough now,” says C.
“Leave this to me,” says T.
Several telephone calls later, as she would say, she has fixed their business. She eventually got to speak to someone sensible at the council who has agreed to call the dogs off for a while.
Don’t get me wrong, T and C both know they have to pay the bill, and are not trying to dodge it, but they are not rich and both already paying council tax on their own homes. They have kept the council informed every step of the way (the council even has the date the survey was done, so that proves something!). So why refer it to bailiffs without even telling the family?
The council has, in my opinion, been, at best, inefficient. They were unhelpful until T told them the facts of life and the bailiffs were rude to C. This was Manchester City Council, but they are not the only ones. It’s outrageous. We (the council tax payers) are paying for this. I absolutely agree, go after the wasters and non-payers, but leave the decent people alone. They hit us because they can and it’s just not fair. Let’s all stand up against this injustice. I, for one, will be writing to many people (MP, etc) about this because it’s bang out of order.
©Susan Shirley 2014