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8 June, 2020 Open access

Return of bailiffs once coronavirus lockdown is lifted would be ‘unfair and unsafe’ without additional government action, says StepChange Debt Charity

Call for action responds to Civil Enforcement Association publication of Support Plan to safeguard bailiffs and people they 'encounter' in the community

The return of bailiffs once the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown is lifted would be ‘unfair and unsafe' without additional government action, StepChange Debt Charity has said.

StepChange was responding to the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) having announced that bailiffs (enforcement agents) will implement a phased return to activity following the lifting of lockdown restrictions. The measures to support this, set out in a Post-lockdown Support Plan that was announced today, include that -

Commenting on the plans, head of policy at StepChange Peter Tutton said -

‘While we welcome CIVEA’s pledge to treat those affected by COVID-19 with additional consideration, we cannot entrust the duty of care of financially vulnerable people to an unregulated industry whose collection practices have caused significant harm in the past.

Any return to enforcement action, phased or otherwise, must be preceded by Government-led measures that protect those affected by COVID-19. This includes putting affordable repayment plans in place for council tax arrears before resorting to enforcement action, and taking into account vulnerability and financial circumstances before acting.

Alongside temporary measures to help those affected by the pandemic, the Government must finally act to regulate the bailiff industry and bring the sector up to the standards of consumer protection common elsewhere in debt recovery. With millions of people struggling with COVID-19 related debts, it is unfair and unsafe for the government to restart enforcement without these safeguards.’

For more information, see The return of bailiffs is unfair and unsafe without additional Government action from