Civil Enforcement Association corrects Citizens Advice statement
Responding to the Citizens Advice comment on enforcement activity, Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association, said:
“Of the 19 billion debt identified in the Citizens Advice report, around 18% qualifies for collection by Certificated Enforcement Agents (bailiffs) and less than that is actually assigned to an enforcement agency.
A visit by an enforcement agent is always the last resort. Agents are highly trained and must follow a process set out in detailed regulations to ensure that they collect unpaid council tax and court fines fairly. The fees that are added to the outstanding debt are fixed by government and anyone owing money to the council will receive calls, letters, emails and texts and an opportunity to set up a payment plan.
We work closely with the voluntary sector and under the regulations people are sign posted to debt advice, which accounts for the increase in numbers. But if anyone has strong evidence of bad practice we will investigate. We are committed to driving up standards and will submit our own robust evidence on the state of the industry in response to the call for evidence when it is published.”
Notes for editors:
The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies operating in England and Wales.
Enforcement agents (formerly known as bailiffs) are regulated by the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, Schedule 12 and the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013.
The Ministry of Justice published a One year review of Enforcement Agent reforms in March 2018 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/695833/one-year-review-bailiff-reform-web.pdf
The first review of those reforms showed positive progress since our changes. This includes better awareness around debtor rights and how to complain, more clarity for debtors about the fees that can be charged, the processes that should be followed, and where to go for advice.
It also found the overall effectiveness of proper enforcement has improved, with a greater proportion of debts now being successfully enforced.
In light of lingering concerns over aggressive behaviour by minority of bailiffs, the Ministry will be publishing a Call for Evidence.