Concerns raised over bailiff visits
Working parents are being hounded by debt collectors and make up more than a fifth of requests for help dealing with bailiffs chasing payments, a charity has claimed.
The Citizens Advice charity said it dealt with 60,000 "bailiff problems" between April last year and March 2013. A third of the requests made by 38,262 people were asking for help with council tax arrears.
On Sunday it was revealed that the value of UK workers' wages has suffered one of the sharpest falls in the European Union, when adjusted for inflation.
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, said: "The prospect of a bailiff knocking at the door of a family home is terrifying for anyone, particularly parents with kids at home.
"Mums and dads don't want their children to know about their money worries, but when a person is standing on their doorstep demanding money, it is unavoidable and frightening for all of the family. The fact that working parents are being hounded by bailiffs for debts is a worrying reflection on today's living standards. Hard-working households are racking up debts just to get by.
"We're concerned that all too often debts, like unpaid council tax, are passed to bailiffs too quickly without recognising that the person may be struggling and need help like repayment plans. Creditors need to be identifying debt problems earlier and offering support, and never side-stepping responsibilities by handing it over to bailiffs."
The figures on working parents came from a poll of 13,444 people who came to Citizens Advice between January and March with a "bailiff problem".
The charity said that of the requests for help with debt collectors, half were parents with dependent children, with 46% of those being from families with a working parent.
Local government minister Brandon Lewis said: "In June we introduced new guidance to tackle the use of heavy-handed bailiffs by councils to protect people from unfair treatment, making it clear that it is unacceptable for councils to employ burly bailiffs with heavy-handed tactics.
"The latest official statistics show that council tax arrears have actually fallen. This Government is funding a five-year council tax freeze that has already delivered a real terms cut in bills for hard-working families across the country."