Will the council send the bailiffs to your door? It depends on where you live in Wales

Credit: moneyadvicetrust.org

There has been a sharp rise in the number of bailiffs called out by some local authorities in Wales to collect debts - despite claims such tactics are less effective in recovering funds.

The Money Advice Trust said councils in England and Wales instructed bailiffs to collect debts on 2.1 million occasions last year, compared to 1.8 million the year before - an increase of 16%.

Cardiff Council saw the biggest rise in the use of bailiffs to collect debts - instructing them on 24,105 occasions in two years - a rise of 86%.

It ranks the council at 36 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

Conwy Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2,928 occasions - up 61% in two years.

Newport Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 4,886 occasions - up 23% in two years.

However many other councils in Wales reported a significant drop. Pembrokeshire Council saw a 71% decrease.

Bailiffs were most likely to be used for council tax debt.

Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, says council tax debts were by far the biggest problem. Parking related debt was the other major contributor.

MAT claims councils using bailiffs the most were also found to have had less success in collecting council tax arrears.

Something is seriously wrong here. 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 often already in a vulnerable situation. Bailiff action is not only harmful to those in arrears - it is also a poor deal for the council taxpayer.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust

Citizens Advice has called on councils to use every other option to collect debts before resorting to bailiffs.

Using bailiffs must be the last resort.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice
Cardiff Council's use of bailiffs rose by 86% over the last two years. Credit: ITV Wales News

A City of Cardiff Council spokesperson said bailiffs are only used as a last resort, when all other means of recovering debt have been exhausted.

We have a duty to the city's Council Tax payers to recover debt, especially during a time when local authorities in Wales are facing unprecedented budget cuts.

Cardiff Council spokesperson

HOW OFTEN DOES YOUR COUNCIL USE BAILIFFS:

CARDIFF

  • Cardiff Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 24105 occasions - up 86% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 14.7% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 36 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

NEATH PORT TALBOT

  • In 2014/15, Neath Port Talbot Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 4306 occasions -down 8% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 6.21% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 124 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

VALE OF GLAMORGAN

  • In 2014/15, Vale of Glamorgan Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2245 occasions - up 11% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 3.77% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 202 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

NEWPORT

  • In 2014/15, Newport Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 4886 occasions - up 23% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 7.01% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 107 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

MONMOUTHSHIRE

  • In 2014/15, Monmouthshire County Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 997 occasions - down 34% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 2.25% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 273 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

TORFAEN

  • In 2014/15, Torfaen County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 1255 occasions - down 39% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 2.88% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 240 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

BLAENAU GWENT

  • No 2014/15 bailiff use data is available for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, as the authority did not respond to our Freedom of Information request.

CAERPHILLY

  • In 2014/15, Caerphilly County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2688 occasions -down 2% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 3.23% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 225 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

RHONDDA CYNON TAF

  • In 2014/15, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 5359 occasions - down 7% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 4.59% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 167 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

BRIDGEND

  • In 2014/15, Bridgend County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2350 occasions - up 6% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 3.51% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 213 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

SWANSEA

  • No 2014/15 bailiff use data is available for Swansea Council, as the authority did not respond to our Freedom of Information request.

CARMARTHENSHIRE

  • In 2014/15, Carmarthenshire County Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 4168 occasions - down 13% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 4.49% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 171 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

PEMBROKESHIRE

  • In 2014/15, Pembrokeshire Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 729 occasions -down 71% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 1.08% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 308 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

POWYS

  • In 2014/15, Powys County Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2929 occasions - up 11% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 4.15% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 184 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

GWYNEDD

  • In 2014/15, Gwynedd Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 3186 occasions -down 37% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 4.65% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 166 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

ANGLESEY

  • No 2014/15 bailiff use data is available for Isle of Anglesey Council, as the authority did not respond to our Freedom of Information request.

CONWY

  • In 2014/15, Conwy County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2928 occasions - up 61% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 4.74% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 163 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

DENBIGHSHIRE

  • In 2014/15, Denbighshire Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2408 occasions - down 4% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 4.97% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 156 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

WREXHAM

  • 2014/15, Wrexham County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2539 occasions - down 29% in two years.

  • The number of debts passed to bailiffs was equivalent to 3.98% of properties in the area, ranking the council at 195 out of 326 for local authority bailiff use in England and Wales.

MERTHYR

  • 2014/15, Merthyr Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 2,054 occasions - up 7.16 in two years.

CEREDIGION

  • 2014/15, Ceredigion County Borough Council instructed bailiffs to collect debts from individuals and businesses on 1087 occasions - up 2.80% in two years.