A WOMAN who claims she received a ‘threatening’ bailiff letter after missing a single council tax payment is calling for the council to change its policy.

Jean Lancaster, 59, who lives in Cloverfield, Blackburn, said she had never missed payment until after losing her job earlier this year, she had no choice but to pay her £517 monthly mortgage payment first. She said: “I have been honest and hardworking and want to pay the amount but I physically can’t now I am on Job Seekers Allowance.

“I lost my job and missed one £90 payment. The council should look at your history as well as your current situation, instead of sending threatening letters. It’s not on.”

This week the Lancashire Telegraph reported that 5,000 families in Blackburn with Darwen faced a visit from bailiffs over unpaid council tax last year – nearly 2,000 more than the year before.

According to the council, reminders are sent 15 to 20 days after the due date. The council waits at least another 20 days before issuing a summons for the full balance.

A further 15-20 days elapses before the actual court date and the council is obliged to wait 14 more days before the debt can be issued to bailiffs.

A council spokesman said: “The instigation of bailiff action is always undertaken as a last resort when the council has no other option in recovery of the arrears.

“The council would advise anyone having difficulty in paying their council tax to contact the council as soon as possible in order to avoid bailiff action.”