LOW-INCOME families in Manchester are to be protected from being chased by bailiffs over Council Tax debt, following a ground-breaking decision by Manchester City Council.

On 11 January, Manchester City Council’s Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee voted to exempt all households eligible for Council Tax Support from Enforcement Agent action.

The change is the result of a campaign to ‘Boot the Bailiffs’ out of Manchester by Debt Justice and ACORN, which highlighted the financial and emotional impact of bailiff visits.

Almost 8,000 households in Manchester were referred to bailiffs between 2021 and 2022 after falling behind on Council Tax payments. Fees are added to residents’ debts at every stage of the enforcement process, pushing them deeper into debt.

Richard Dunbar, Senior Community Organiser at Debt Justice, said: “These positive changes have been introduced because an ambitious community campaign challenged the council to support residents weighed down by debt rather than rushing to call in the bailiffs. We are disappointed that Manchester hasn’t ended this often traumatising practice entirely, but we are relieved that fewer residents are living in fear of a bailiff knocking on their door.”

Louisa Olympios, Manchester Branch Organiser at ACORN, said: “This hard-fought victory is massive for our members and the most vulnerable residents of Manchester who will no longer have to live in fear of bailiffs coming to their door. After campaigning for this for over a year, members are ecstatic to have pushed the council to do this and give extra security to thousands of households. It’s a testament to what we can achieve with strength in numbers.”

ACORN is a community based union of working class people – tenants, workers and residents. More information here.

* Source: Debt Justice