British Gov't & Local Councils Accused of 'Aggressive Debt Collecting' - Report

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A new study finds people with spiralling debts including council tax arrears or benefit over-payments are being aggressively chased by local authorities and central government in the UK.

Its emerged government departments and local authorities in Britain are aggressively chasing people with council tax arrears or who have been overpaid their benefit.

A 24 year old man living in London who was overpaid housing benefit after he found a job told Sputnik the letters from the council demanding repayments made his so stressed he wouldn't open his door, or even his mail and would hide in his bedroom unable to go to work.

"The letters make me shake and I just want to lie on my bed. I haven't got enough money to pay for my electricity, gas or food."

READ MORE: Destitute Nation: More than a Million 'Weak, Dirty & Hungry' in Britain

A new report 'Powerless People' published by Christians Against Poverty found private companies had a more consumer focused approach to retrieving debt whereas central government and local authorities have more aggressive methods.

More than half of all clients who owed money to Britain's Department for Work and Pensions, HMRC or local council had mental health problems, 37 percent were single parents and 15 percent had learning difficulties, the report states

Matt Barlow, CAP's chief executive said: "While we've seen improvement in some of the private sector's debt-collecting practices, it is totally unacceptable that some of the most aggressive debt collecting in our nation comes from local and national governments."

"Many have no idea why they owe what they owe and that's both confusing and frightening," says Matt Barlow.

READ MORE: Hidden Figures: Despite Falling Unemployment in the UK, Poverty High & Rising

The report reveals 41 percent of clients who owed money to local or central government were more likely to consider suicide as a way out of debt while 60 percent of people were scared to open the door. 

A Government spokesman said: "We have a responsibility to the taxpayer to recover benefit overpayments. There are safeguards to ensure people aren't being asked to repay more than they can afford, and reductions in monthly repayments can be requested."

CAP offers debt counselling to people trapped in poverty and is calling for more breathing space for people who owe money to their local authority and central government. 

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