Memorandum by the Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
1998 (S.I. 1998/295
1. The Committee has requested
a memorandum on the following point:
In relation to regulation 8(2)(b),
explain why the charge for taking walking possession of the goods
distrained upon on the debtor's premises has been increased from
10 pence per day to a single charge of £10.
2. In the Department's original
consultation, it was proposed that fees for walking possession
agreements where bailiffs are used in the collection of unpaid
council tax should be abolished altogether. This would have been
welcomed by a number of authorities, because a disproportionate
amount of the payments made to the bailiff by the debtor can be
swallowed up by the daily 10 pence possession fee, with little
money reaching the authority. On the other hand, it appeared that
the abolition of daily walking possession fees might have the
effect of discouraging bailiffs from agreeing to long term payment
arrangements at all.
3. However, much concern was also
expressed that the abolition of walking possession fees could
lead to an increase in the incidence of goods being removed from
the debtor's premises immediately following the levy of distress.
It was decided that in order to avoid unnecessary removal of possessions,
fees for walking possession agreements should be retained. However,
there was some indication that the existence of the daily rate
was leading to the duration of walking possession arrangements
being needlessly prolonged.
4. The normal reasonable duration
of a walking possession agreement tends to be approximately three
months. A debtor might therefore normally expect to pay approximately
£9 in respect of a walking possession agreement where the
fee was fixed on a daily basis. £10 therefore represents
an increase not in excess of the increases on the average levels
of charge being introduced in respect of the cost of distress
for council tax.
6th March 1998