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Bailiffs 'must be last resort'

27 August 2015

Citizens Advice has called on councils to use every other option to collect debts before resorting to bailiffs. The charity made the call in response to new figures from National Debtline showing a 16 per cent increase in the use of bailiffs, mostly driven by local authorities collecting council tax arrears.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

"Using bailiffs must be the last resort.

"We have seen a significant rise in people having problems with bailiffs in the last year, and more than half of these issues related to council tax debts. One man we helped had his work tools taken by bailiffs, leaving him unable to work to pay back his debt.

"We recognise the serious financial pressures on local authorities, but they should be using every other option before calling out the bailiffs. When there is no alternative, councils must make sure bailiffs follow the rules and treat people fairly.

"Anyone struggling with debt can get free, confidential, impartial advice from Citizens Advice."

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.