Welcome to our new blog series, exploring the key topics being discussed in the enforcement industry. In Part 1, we provide some background information and insight on what CIVEA is and why it exists.
CIVEA, the civil enforcement association, is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies in England and Wales.
It is the aim and objective of CIVEA to ensure that Certified Enforcement Agents and the companies they represent, follow a code of practice that promotes responsible and fair engagement with members of the public. We exist to ensure strict safeguards are implemented, so the vulnerable are provided with the right protection, and payment comes from those who wilfully refuse to pay, rather than those who want to pay but cannot afford to.
CIVEA and its members are dedicated to providing a professional service that recovers much-needed funding for the frontline services we all rely on, while protecting those in need of advice and additional support. We currently represent over 95% of the entire enforcement industry. Our members are all enforcement agencies who work on behalf of local authorities, Transport for London and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS).
A Certified Enforcement Agent (previously known as bailiff) will be tasked with visiting a debtor at their property to recover unpaid council tax, business rates, parking fines, magistrates’ court fines, employment tribunal awards, child support payments, B2B and commercial rent arrears. We are not debt collectors and only visit after a council has failed to recover funds themselves and taken an individual to court. Each year our members receive over 3.5 million warrants and court orders.
The work undertaken by CIVEA members is essential to funding local services such as adult social care, leisure facilities, refuse collections, police and fire services. Uncollected tax means less money for these services and higher bills for law-abiding residents who do pay on time. Over £500 million (half a billion) of unpaid taxes and fines are recovered year on year by our members, at no cost to public bodies. Half of enforcement cases are collected successfully without the need for an agent to visit a property and only 0.1% of enforcement involves the removal of goods.
In September 2019, we introduced a new strengthened Code, which exceeds the statutory requirements and the National Standards. A compliance framework ensures that firms comply with our objectives. This includes an independent audit of company policies, monitoring calls and observing agents in the field. The process is overseen by an independent panel of experts known as the Compliance, Adjudication and Review of Enforcement (CARE) Panel.
There will always be those who are uncomfortable that the Government uses the courts' process to recover debt, but enforcement is complex, highly specialised, and essential work to ensure that taxpayers do not subsidise non-payers.
Check back next week when we discuss how enforcement differs from debt collection on behalf of private companies, and what it means to be a part of CIVEA. For more information on the enforcement process please see our new ‘CIVEA Guide To Enforcement’ animation or, view our latest ‘COVID-19 Safe Working Practices’ video.
PO Box 745
If you wish to make a complaint against a member of CIVEA, please go to our complaints page and follow the procedure detailed there. Your email will be acknowledged within 5 working days.
CIVEA is unable to discuss complaint matters over the telephone and complaints should be sent in writing. This is to ensure that the details of your complaint are accurately recorded and understood which makes it easier in addressing your complaint thoroughly. Please advise if you have a disability, so that we can make reasonable adjustments.
You can contact us by email, letter or telephone.