This was true for Lisa*, who came to see us last month. Lisa works full time, although her partner works, he has a zero hours contract – which means it’s hard to plan and budget. They have two young daughters.
Last year Lisa and her partner fell into council tax arrears, because for some weeks her partner had no work at all. The bill was passed to bailiffs and although it started at around £800 it rose to £1300 because of bailiffs fees and charges.
After borrowing money from family, Lisa was able to agree to pay the balance off over a year and had only one instalment left to pay of less than £80 .
Just before the final payment, out of the blue Lisa received a letter from the bailiffs saying she now owed nearly a thousand pounds and she had one day to pay.
Threats were made of forced entry and seizing of goods.
This was when Lisa came to see us. She was distraught, terrified that the bailiffs would force entry into her home and take her and her children’s things. Fortunately we can see debt clients very quickly, and on the same day she met with Rachael, one of our debt specialists.
Rachael could see something was wrong.
An old debt had been found and added to the existing one.
Rachael informed the bailiffs had no right to do what they were doing and in fact it was illegal.
The bailiffs disagreed, but finally after 3 hours, Rachael was able to stop them taking this unnecessary and unlawful action and Lisa was able reach a new agreement and continue to reduce her debt in a way that she has been managing for the past 12 months.
Lisa left feeling reassured and relieved and thankful of the time and help we were able to offer, but just imagine what could have happened to her and her family without the knowledge we gave her!
There are many more people like Lisa, who become vulnerable and don’t understand what they have been told. We continue to challenge the actions of bailiffs who deal with vulnerable people, who are mostly unaware of their rights. For this family however, the future is clearer and brighter and that’s what we are here for!
*names have been changed to protect identity