Sutton Council sent out bailiffs more than 250 times last year
Bailiffs were sent to homes and businesses on behalf of Sutton Council more than 250 times last year.
Debt charities have called on councils to do more to avoid using bailiffs but the council said it only uses enforcement as a last resort and that they are used to make sure money is available for "vital front line services".
Bailiffs, who call at people's houses and businesses to collect council tax and fines on behalf of the council and are able to seize possessions if money is not forthcoming, were used 257 times in the last 12 months, according to figures obtained by the Money Advice Trust.
The figure is lower than some areas with similar populations, including Richmond, which turned to Bailiffs 557 times and Merton, which used bailiffs 360 times, but higher than in many areas with similar populations outside London.
The Money Advice Trust said the use of bailiffs is rising across the country and has called on councils to reconsider their practices.
Joanna Elson, the charity's chief executive, said: "It is not economically or socially responsible for local authorities to continue to use bailiffs so frequently.
"Our experience through National Debtline shows us first-hand how bailiffs can deepen debt problems, rather than solve them.
"Local authorities seem to be assuming that anyone not paying debts is a ‘won’t pay’, rather than a ‘can’t pay’.
"In today’s economy, with real incomes having fallen consistently for many years, more and more people are falling into the ‘can’t pay’ bracket – sending the bailiffs in to collect these debts can be very destructive, both financially and psychologically."
Sutton Council said it only it only turns to bailiffs when "all other avenues of enquiry have been exhausted".
A spokesman said: "It is our responsibility to ensure that all money owed to the council is collected on time so that it can be used to provide vital front line services.
"In certain cases it is - and only as a last resort - where money has not been forthcoming we request that this collection is made by bailiffs."
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