AN east London borough is set to be the first local authority in London to ban bailiffs from collecting unpaid fines and council tax payments.
Newham Council has said it will not be sending out enforcement officers to collect unpaid money in the new financial year because of the impact of Universal Credit.
Officers from OneSource Enforcement Services, a shared service between the Newham, Havering and Bexley, can currently be sent to households when council tax, parking penalty fines, business rates or commercial rent have not been paid.
The council writes to residents who have outstanding payments and gives them seven days to pay up.If the money is not received, bailiffs are sent to the address where they can “collect the money or remove goods or possessions from your home to the value of the debt you owe”, according to the council website.
They also have the power to clamp or remove vehicles.
Newham mayor Rokhsana Fiaz said the scheme targets the most vulnerable residents.
“Given the impact Universal Credit and benefit cuts are having on some of our residents I did not want to have a contract with bailiffs in place,” she said.
Marc Francis, policy director at anti-poverty charity Zacchaeus 2000 Trust, said Newham were the first council he had seen which had fully committed to the policy.
He added: “More than half of England’s poorest households have had bailiffs instructed on them, which is a terrifying. We really welcome the lift of this threat.”