Boom-time for bailiffs

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APART from the bankers and speculators, there is another group looking to make huge profits at the expense of the human misery being created by the capitalist crisis – the bailiffs.

While the bankers are reaping huge amounts from the savage cuts being made by the Tory-led coalition in an effort to repay the massive banking losses and keep the banks from bankruptcy, the debt collection industry is set to make a fortune out of the human misery created by these same cuts.

According to the debt advice charity, Citizens Advice, just one of the cuts to benefits for the unemployed and low paid workers is pushing vulnerable people into the hands of bailiffs who, the charity warns, often exaggerate their powers, are aggressive and pile on ‘excessive fees’.

This is the cut to Council Tax benefits.

Since last month’s introduction of the government’s ‘welfare reforms’ Council Tax benefit has been replaced by Council Tax Support, these are schemes that the government is insisting must be run by local councils but with a 10% cut to the previous amount of funding.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, this change has resulted in 150,000 families paying £300 a year more in Council Tax while 1.9 million families previously exempt from paying the charge because of unemployment or low pay, will now be liable for a charge of £140 a year.

As a result of these changes Citizens Advice has reported that the number of people worried about paying Council Tax has ‘rocketed’ since April with 37,000 seeking help from their on-line advice page – an 87% increase on the number looking for help in the same month last year.

Despite all the talk from the Tories about councils looking sympathetically at hardship cases, the brutal fact is that councils are driven to try and screw the money out of every household no matter how poor and unable to pay they are.

And this is where the bailiff comes in, with the council debt ‘sold’ on to these private companies who make their money by piling on fees, driving the original debt up into the stratosphere, and repossessing people’s goods to make good their profit.

As the Chief Executive of the CA said it’s a ‘boom-time for bailiffs’ adding: ‘bailiffs will see their profits rise at the expense of hard-pressed families’.

With workers and their families being hit with increases in Council Tax that will drive them over the brink into absolute poverty they are simultaneously facing attack from the hated bedroom tax.

According to the latest data from 107 local authorities 86,000 households have been forced to look for one-bedroom homes or face a 14% cut in their housing benefit – only 33,000 one-bedroom homes actually exist.

Even the government’s own impact assessment of the effect of the bedroom tax warned that 35% of households in council or housing association homes  claiming benefit would be forced into rent arrears and face eviction.

The immediate prospect confronting hundreds of thousands of workers is one of being thrown into the streets as well as being hounded by bailiffs out to suck as much profit as possible from the blood of the working class.

This is the only future that bankrupt British capitalism holds for the working class and it is a future that millions of workers are refusing to accept.

The demand must now be that all evictions and attempts by bailiffs to seize people’s property to pay for the debts of the banks be fought through  organising councils of action in every area to physically prevent these attacks.

Above all, it requires the immediate calling of an indefinite general strike to bring down this government and bring in a workers government that will repudiate the bank debt and nationalise the banks as part of a socialist planned economy.