FROM April, Bailiffs will have to follow new rules and processes when collecting debts.

The main changes include:

• Banning bailiffs from visiting at night

• Stopping bailiffs from entering a home when only a child is present

• Preventing bailiffs from taking necessary household items, such as a cooker or washing machine

• Providing greater protection from bailiff action for vulnerable people

• Making sure at least 7 days’ notice of bailiff action is given and 7 days’ notice before selling any belongings

• Compulsory training and certification for bailiffs

• A simplified fee structure, including set fees for each stage of bailiff action

• A responsibility to provide information at all stages of the process, with notices containing wording that is set out by law

• Distress for rent arrears has also been abolished, meaning that landlords can no longer use bailiffs to collect residential rent arrears Citizens Advice has been campaigning for many years to improve the practices of Bailiffs; we will be monitoring the action of local Bailiff to ensure they abide by the new rules.

If you're in debt, don't panic. Remember it is never too late to get help and advice from Citizens Advice Free, confidential advice and help is available from Cumbria Rural Citizens Advice Bureau on any aspect of debt, consumer problems, benefits, housing, employment and any other problems.

We have various outlets across South Lakeland and can also give advice over the phone - telephone 015394 46464 for an appointment and help.

If you don't need us for advice, how about helping us by becoming a volunteer or making a donation? Not many people realize that we are a charity - see our website for details