Money and Mental Health backs Justice Committee call for new regulator to stamp out bad bailiff behaviour

11 April 2019


A new report published today by the Justice Select Committee has called on the government to introduce a new regulator for the bailiff industry — and an independent complaints body for the sector — to ensure that people in problem debt are treated fairly.


Commenting on these recommendations, Helen Undy, Chief Executive of the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, said:

“For too long the bailiff industry has gone unregulated, and been allowed to cause real psychological harm through aggressive and sometimes illegal practices. More than 100,000 people in debt attempt suicide each year in England, and our research shows that bad bailiff behaviour can contribute to feelings of helplessness and despair.

“This needs to stop because it’s destroying lives. We welcome the Justice Committee’s call for a new regulator for bailiffs, and urge the government to act by giving an independent statutory body real teeth to act. That would offer a genuine deterrent to aggressive bailiff behaviour, and would make a huge difference in protecting people who are in acute distress and financial difficulty.”




Key facts and stats:


  • Nearly half (47%) of all people in problem debt also have a mental health problem (1)
  • 1.5m people in England are affected by both financial difficulty and mental health problems in England alone
  • Over 420,000 people in problem debt consider taking their own life in England each year
  • More than 100,000 people in debt actually attempt suicide each year in England
  • Money and Mental Health research shows that a visit from a bailiff itself can result in people experiencing panic attacks, insomnia, confusion, feelings of terror, and despair.
  • Intimidating action from bailiffs can also be a trigger for suicidal thoughts, as as well as causing or prolonging periods of poor mental health.



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Notes to Editors


  1. This stat and those following are based on analysis of the national Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (2014), a nationally representative survey of over 7,500 people across England. It was undertaken by NatCen on behalf of Money and Mental Health.


About Money and Mental Health:


  • The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute was set up by Martin Lewis in spring 2016, registered charity number 1166493.
  • It conducts research and develops policies for essential services firms, regulators, the health service and government to help people with mental health problems protect themselves from financial difficulties and get out of debt.
  • Helen Undy is a passionate mental health campaigner and became the Institute’s Chief Executive in 2018, having previously led the Institute’s impact and communications work