Central Government has introduced new legislation which means bailiffs will charge more when collecting debts owed to the council.

This means increased costs for debtors starting at £75 and rising to £420 if the debt isn’t paid straight away, with higher charges for people owing more than £1,500.

The reforms came in on 6 April 2014. They are part of Central Government measures to create fixed charges for bailiffs recovering council debts including council tax and business rates.

Cllr Ben Curran, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said:

“These increased costs imposed by central government will be a further burden on Sheffielders who are struggling to make ends meet.

“I would urge anyone struggling to pay their bills to contact us before it gets to this stage as there are ways we can help people to repay their debt.

“We are happy to work closely with people who struggle to pay their bills and will always try to find ways of helping them to repay their debt. This might involve reduced payments over a manageable, extended period of time and checking they receive the benefits they’re entitled to.

“But there are times when external bailiffs are used to recover debts from those who ‘won’t pay’. The higher bailiff charges imposed by this Government will mean more costs for these people. This is not something that we would choose to do – but unfortunately the charges are being imposed nationally by this Government.”

Clare Lodder from Sheffield Citizens Advice said:

“We are very concerned that these additional costs will increase the debts of people already in difficulty. As always, it is so important that people struggling to meet essential bills seek advice at the earliest opportunity.”

Contact Sheffield City Council on 0114 273 6633 if you are struggling to pay council bills.

Phone 0114 205 5055 or visit www.advicesheffield.org.uk to find out more information and what help is available.