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Time to Bid Farewell to the Cowboy Bailiffs

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The era of the cowboy bailiff is over. This government promised to tackle the blight of aggressive bailiffs, and that's exactly what we've done.

New laws introduced this weekend will outlaw the frankly disgraceful behaviour we've seen from some of the dubious characters who have gathered in this industry. We're ending the situation where any old thug can turn up and work as a bailiff. From now on everyone working in the industry will have to be properly trained and certificated before they get started - and if they break our tough new rules they will have that certification taken away.

No longer can a bailiff come crashing through someone's door in the dead of night. We have banned them from visiting between 9pm and 6am.

No longer can they terrify children by turning up with demands for money and goods. We have banned them from visiting when only a child is home.

No longer can they leave people bereft of the essentials they need to live. We have banned them from seizing vital household items - like cookers, fridges and washing machines.

What's more, we are making sure bailiffs don't take advantage of vulnerable people who simply don't understand why they are being pursued, or what to do about it. Bailiffs will be trained to recognise when they are dealing with someone vulnerable and how to handle them fairly.

All of this will clean up the industry and protect people from aggression and exploitation.

But bailiffs also have a genuine job to do, to fairly enforce debts owed to businesses and authorities. They provide a service they are entitled to charge for.

What they are not entitled to do - as they did in the past - is to take liberties with their fees. Before now there was no fixed national fee structure. Some bailiffs were tacking on extra charges left, right and centre - a fee for every letter they sent, extra fees for visiting your house, for clamping your car, seizing it, towing it and selling it. It all stacked up and people in debt had no choice but to pay. We have put an end to this. There are now fixed fees, so people know from the outset where they stand, and that if they sort out their debts early the fees will be kept to a minimum.

So it's time to bid farewell to the cowboy bailiffs out there. This is the start of a new era which will be fairer to both people in debt and the businesses and authorities they owe.

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