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Highlight keywords  |Print this articlePrint this article
From: The Socialist issue 868, 2 September 2015: Killed by benefit cuts

Search site for keywords: Council - Cuts - Tax - Bedroom tax - Socialist Party - Councillors - Coventry - Council tax - Rents - Evictions - Family - Tenants - Poverty - Local government

Two million bailiff calls as councils brutalise poor

Crossed arms, photo by istolethetv (Creative Commons)

Strong-arm tactics, photo by istolethetv (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Matt Whale

In the past year, councils in England and Wales have sent bailiffs in to collect debts over two million times.

Ordinary working class people are struggling to get by. Zero-hour contracts, poverty pay and sky-high rents are the norm. Now we face the increasing threat of our own councils - including Labour - calling in the bailiffs!

The most vulnerable in society are being further penalised, and for what crime? Being poor!

Research by the Money Advice Trust shows using bailiffs not only worsens a person's wellbeing, but actually deepens debts. Elsewhere in this issue of the Socialist, ordinary people respond to lethal benefit cuts. Increased use of bailiffs - up around 16% over the past two years - can only make things worse.

Cuts to council tax benefit are a major contributing factor. Taking property to cover such debts is the reason for most bailiff calls, although in repossession cases they can also evict tenants.

Councils are blaming central government cuts for the increase. This, however, is no excuse.

Instead of doing the Tory government's dirty work, local authorities should refuse to pass on cuts. The Socialist Party says they must use their platform to lead residents and workers in a fightback.

Local campaigns have already taken it up. Attempted evictions, as a result of the bedroom tax, have been stopped by community campaigners coming together and refusing to let bailiffs in.

Forced out

For instance, in Coventry, campaigners including Socialist Party members successfully stopped an eviction. The man was being forced out of his family home by the bedroom tax.

We have had successes like this elsewhere. Communities need to organise similar networks to defend themselves from bailiffs.

The chair of the Local Government Association's resources board, Labour councillor Claire Kober, reckons councils have tried to take a "sympathetic and constructive approach" to debtors. Sending bailiffs in is hardly sympathetic to the poor.

We don't want crocodile tears from councillors sending in bailiffs. We demand action to defend our communities.

  • For councils which fight the cuts
  • Stop attacking the poor with bailiffs
  • Axe the bedroom tax
  • For a mass programme of quality council home building





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