Charles Dickens councillor and Labours housing spokesperson Cal Corkery has this week written to the leader of Portsmouth City Council to call for an end to bailiff visits during lockdown. Residents have been in touch with cllr Corkery over visits they’ve received from bailiffs acting on behalf of the city council in relation to Council Tax arrears.
Cllr Cal Corkery said: “I have recently been contacted by a number of constituents concerned at having been visited by bailiffs acting on behalf of the council in relation to Council Tax arrears. One incident saw a vulnerable women who is shielding visited by a bailiff not even wearing a mask. I have serious concerns about the impact such enforcement action is having on vulnerable people and the risk it poses to public health.”
Phil Andrew, CEO of debt advice charity StepChange, has recently said: “At a time when coronavirus transmission is out of control, it is unconscionable that bailiffs should continue to be allowed to make in-person visits to people’s homes. Bailiffs visiting people homes to collect debts carries significant risks and should be suspended during the current lockdown.”
In his letter to the council leader Cllr Corkery called for the following actions to happen:
- Immediately suspend bailiff visits for the duration of the national lockdown.
- Issue a formal apology to residents who have been visited by bailiffs acting on behalf of the council during lockdown.
- Consider implementing the proposals for ethically reforming council debt collection practices which the Labour Group had submitted for discussion at the March 2020 Full Council meeting.
Cllr Corkery added: “At a time when our city is still seeing significant Covid infection rates and when many households are struggling to deal with the impacts of the pandemic I trust you will share the concerns raised in this letter and ensure your administration responds accordingly.”