To date the only commitment made by the government is making body-worn cameras mandatory for private bailiffs, but, without independent regulation, this measure will not be enough.
Phil Andrew, CEO of StepChange, said: “Since 2017 the Taking Control campaign has called for reform of the bailiff industry, driven by the experience of our clients whose lives have been turned upside down by the unregulated bailiff sector.
“We’ve waited long enough for the kind of meaningful reform that has successfully reduced harm in other areas of debt recovery. The simple truth is that, on bailiffs, the Government is woefully behind the curve. We have the evidence, we have support from across parliament and the Lords - it’s now time for the Government to act.”
Dame Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said: “While the government drags its feet on bailiff reform, someone seeks our help every three minutes with an issue related to bailiffs.
“This cannot continue. Only independent regulation of bailiffs will protect vulnerable people from the stress, anxiety and financial hardship they face right now.”
Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “The longer the government delays acting on this problem, the more people in debt will suffer from the negative impact that bailiff action can have – on their finances, mental and physical health and their family life. We know that 2.6 million debts were passed to bailiffs by local authorities alone in 2018/19 – and that this total continues to rise.
“We urgently need the government to take action to introduce independent regulation of bailiffs and bailiff firms and a robust complaints mechanism, as recommended by the Justice Select Committee. People in financial difficulty cannot wait any longer.”
Steve Johnson, CEO, AdviceUK, said: “Every day AdviceUK members are seeing people whose lives are being made a misery because bailiffs break the rules. Advisers routinely see bailiffs refusing reasonable offers of repayment, misrepresenting their powers, taking control of other people’s goods, failing to treat vulnerable people sympathetically and engaging in aggressive behaviour.
“This must stop and the Government must act, and act now, to introduce independent regulation of the bailiff industry.”