AN MS has this week been leading a debate on further regulation of debt collectors and bailiffs in Wales.

Jack Sargeant, MS for Alyn and Deeside, is determined to protect the public from what he sees as an under regulated industry with many 'appalling examples of best practise'.

Jack has been working with Citizens Advice Cymru who have shared with him examples of poor practice from their own work.

Examples of poor behaviour include cases where vulnerable circumstances are not taken into account and people are pressured to agree to unaffordable repayment plans.

Mr Sargeant says there is also evidence of bailiffs using intimidating behaviour and even taking or threatening to take exempt goods such as those needed for work.

The MS led a debate on a Members Legislative proposal in the Senedd on Wednesday, December 13.

The debate is the first step to introducing a piece of back bench legislation as well as an opportunity to encourage the government to use their own legislation.

With such a high proportion of debt collectors in Wales contracted by local government, Mr Sargeant says it is clear reform is something that should and could be done.

he said: “In the middle of a cost of living crisis the behaviour of debt collectors are making things worse and placing incredible strain on peoples mental health."

He added: "I watched with horror last year as debt collectors working for British Gas were filmed gleefully forcing their way into vulnerable peoples homes to fit prepayment meters, even though the residents concerned were completely unsuitable for such a meter.

“I am absolutely determined to do something to protect some of Wales’s most vulnerable residents and am grateful to Citizens Advice for their support.”

Mr Sargeant has called for a reform of how debt collectors are used and of how councils seek to recover debt.

He is supporting Citizens Advices calls for the Welsh Government to amend the regulations to stop people being asked to pay their entire annual bill if they miss as little as one monthly payment so that local authorities have more flexibility to offer more fair and affordable options to people who miss payments.

One case that Mr Sargeant heard of was a woman in north west Wales who had arranged a repayment plan with an enforcement agent.

She had nearly finished paying off this debt but missed a couple of payments and , following this, bailiffs clamped her NHS hire car, which stopped her from getting to work.

During plenary in the Senedd on Wednesday December 13, the motion proposed by Mr Sargeant was agreed with 27 for, 25 abstentions and none against.