I visit the debtor family. It is a tale of woe for the past couple of years. He is a docker at Felixstowe and has seen a steady reduction in his take home pay as continuous overtime, incentives and bonuses have been cut. Their oldest son has begun to attend the sixth form college and so they have lost his related child allowance. The debt history includes having a house repossessed and sold at auction for a fraction of what it might have been worth had it been spruced up and properly marketed.
But, we are not able to re-write the past – unless you are Alistair Campbell.
The husband is not present as he finds it difficult to cope with the stress. The mother is holding it together but only just.
Additionally they have just received a summons for non payment of the current year’s Council Tax. I stay for an hour asking questions and taking notes. I promise to e-mail the Council and try and get the procedures unrolled until we can get in front of the Council’s Benefits Officer and find out whether they are getting all the benefits and discounts to which they are entitled.
I also promise to come back on Monday morning properly suited up* to deal with the bailiff. My friend agrees to accompany me.
My recommendation is that the daughter makes an appointment with the Citizens Advice Bureau to see how they can be relieved of their debt and my prognosis is that they go bankrupt. They have no credit standing at the moment so it makes no difference to them. As we discuss this and that I learn about other outstanding debts and it gets quite horrifying how families could find themselves liable for the equivalent of a
year’s income with no prospect of ever seeing daylight.
* My role model here is Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin) n Cat Ballou (check out http://www.tigersweat.com/movies/ballou/). S understands the need for uniforms and when necessary transforms himself and ons his gun fighter outfit to do battle on behalf of Catherine Ballou