Rachel Reeves has today led a cross-party group of MPs and peers calling for urgent reform of the bailiff industry, in a letter to Justice Secretary Robert Buckland.
The letter calls on the Government to “act now” to reform debt collection practices, by “bringing in stronger regulation and effective oversight”. Critiquing 2014 reforms which intended to resolve persistent problems in the industry, the letter, co-authored with Conservative peer Lord Pickles, goes on to explain that “83% of callers to National Debtline who had experienced bailiff action reported that the bailiff visit had a negative impact on their wellbeing”.
The letter also notes that “almost a third of people surveyed by StepChange Debt Charity said they had tried to arrange repayments by phone, but the bailiff insisted on visiting their home to take payments” – requiring an extra £235 in enforcement fees added to their debt.
The sending of the letter coincides with the one year anniversary of the closure of the Ministry of Justice’s Call for Evidence on enforcement agent reforms. It was co-signed by nine MPs including Hilary Benn and Stephen Crabb, and four peers including Lord Howarth and Baroness Meacher.