October 19, 2007

Their Shame or Ours?

Filed under: Debt — ken finn @ 11:30 pm

 Name our Shame

I’ve started seeing more DVLA ’don’t pay your tax you don’t use your car’ wheel clamps on the street.  There doesn’t seem to have been much of an outcry at this rather draconian response to non-payment of road fund licence. Surprising since following a clamping the DVLA move fairly quickly to crushing the vehicle.

The motoring organisations seem to support this heavy handed approach taring all non payers as criminals who need to be removed from the roads and or society. In days gone by I can imagine being in the situation of being without the cash to tax a vehicle but having to use it till the money comes in. An offence perhaps but does this kind of poverty warrant the seizure and destruction of a vehicle and further impoverishment?

And what is the natural progession of this kind of ‘name and shame’ justice? How about non payment of council tax, will offenders return home to find themselves barred from their home? Will they have days to find the cash or see their home auctioned to pay back tax and charges? It seems possible.

Mostly the people who clamour for such measures are the least likely in society to ever find themselves prey to the attention of a ballif. If they only knew!

Not so long ago I rented my home to someone who should have paid the council tax as part of the agreement, but he missed a couple of payments. He paid the arears but it was too late, the debt had been placed into the hands of the council’s debt collection agency. I became involved in an attempt to resolve the situation but I quickly realised that I was actually dealing with licenced extortionists. A £300 bill quickly became a £500 bill and rising! The baliff was little more than a bad mouthed thug with the legal right to enter my home and remove anything of value and all the time the bill got bigger. He made his point very forcefully that unless he received money he would be back to seize goods whoever they belonged to. It was a nightmare.

Thankfully I identified a legal error in their proceedings and was able to stop them in their tracks but it was a close run thing.  And as there was no outstanding monies the case was closed.

It was an education in just how frightening debt can be and how unjust the system is for people who find themselves rightly or wrongly in the ‘recovery’ system. It’s also an example of how errors are made and how devastating the consequences can be.

It made me realise just how without compassion we have become for those who cannot afford to keep up the payments.