Legislation to protect public from debt collectors to be debated in Senedd
Legislation to protect the Welsh public from debt collectors and bailiffs who use pressure tactics and intimidation will be debated in the Senedd this week.
Welsh Labour MS, Jack Sargeant will lead the debate on the Members Legislative proposal on Wednesday (December 13).
It will be the first step to introducing a piece of back bench legislation as well as an opportunity to encourage the Welsh Government to use their own legislation.
Mr Sargeant said he is determined to protect the public from what he sees as an under regulated industry with many “appalling” examples of poor behaviour by debt collectors described to him by Citizens Advice Cymru.
He says that with such a high proportion of debt collectors in Wales contracted by local government, reform is “something we should and could do”.
Concerns have been raised of instances in which people have been pressured to agree to unaffordable repayment plans with bailiffs using intimidating behaviour and even threatening to remove goods needed for work.
Citizens Advice Cymru is calling for the Welsh Government to amend the regulations to stop people being asked to pay their entire annual bill if they miss as little as 1 monthly payment so that local authorities have more flexibility to offer fair and affordable options to people who miss payments.
They are also calling for the Welsh Government to set up a statutory code of practice governing council tax debt collection in Wales to build on the existing Council Tax Protocol which all local authorities have signed up to.
This should set out steps that should be taken by local authorities before a liability order can be made – such as attempting to establish an affordable repayment plan and assessing vulnerability.
Mr Sargeant said: “In the middle of a cost of living crisis the behaviour of debt collectors are making things worse and placing incredible strain on peoples mental health. I watched with horror last year as debt collectors working for British Gas were filmed gleefully forcing their way into vulnerable peoples homes to fit prepayment meters, even though the residents concerned were completely unsuitable for such a meter.
“I am absolutely determined to do something to protect some of Wales’s most vulnerable residents and am grateful to Citizens Advice for their support.”
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