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.
Today 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 hard-hitting campaign to ‘Boot the Bailiffs’ out of Manchester by Debt Justice & 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. ”
Debt Justice (formerly Jubilee Debt Campaign) is a campaigning organisation working to end unjust debt and the poverty and inequality it perpetuates, in the UK and across the world https://debtjustice.org.uk/
ACORN is a community based union of working class people – tenants, workers, residents. https://www.acorntheunion.org.uk/acorn_platform
 The recommendation states: “it is not appropriate for any case in receipt of any level CTS to be referred to EAs and agrees that recovery via an attachment of benefits is more appropriate, including for those currently in receipt of maximum CTS.” https://democracy.manchester.gov.uk/documents/b15498/Second%20Supplementary%20Agenda%2011th-Jan-2024%2010.00%20Resources%20and%20Governance%20Scrutiny%20Committee.pdf?T=9
The exemption is in addition to the support announced by Manchester City Council in July 2023 which included more substantial hardship grants and greater repayment flexibility. https://democracy.manchester.gov.uk/documents/s40843/Implementation%20of%20new%20guidelines%20for%20council%20tax%20recovery%20as%20part%20of%20the%20Councils%20Anti-Poverty%20work.pdf
 ‘Bailiffs said they’d take my kids’ toys away. Manchester should stop using them for council tax’ https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/bailiffs-council-tax-manchester-council-25606001
 Manchester City Council Data available at https://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/200028/council_tax/6722/council_tax_data
 According to Citizens Advice more than two million people have been contacted by bailiffs during the cost-of-living crisis. One in three people who came into contact with a bailiff experienced behaviour that broke Ministry of Justice rules. https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/about-us1/media/press-releases/rule-breaking-bailiffs-pushing-people-further-into-crisis-as-fees-add-250m-to-debts/
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