CIVEA responds to poorly interpreted Citizens Advice research on civil enforcement

CIVEA responds to poorly interpreted Citizens Advice research on civil enforcement.

Responding to research based on surveys by Citizens Advice, Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the Civil Enforcement Association, said:

“CIVEA is disappointed to read today’s statement from Citizens Advice and will be interested to understand how this data was gathered and interpreted.

We will study the evidence and would expect that this will also be shared with the Enforcement Conduct Board. Enforcement agents are closely monitored and use body-worn video cameras, so we can respond to all complaints when they are identified.

Taking the facts alone there is no evidence from the case provided that the enforcement action was not conducted according to The Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2013. Anyone who does not pay their council tax and does not respond to numerous letters, calls and texts from the council and enforcement firm, should expect an enforcement visit to their home.

We will review the video evidence to ensure that the agent’s attitude was appropriate and that the member of the public was given all the information required to pay their debt.

Given that the case study inaccurately states that an enforcement action is confirmed to have broken Ministry of Justice rules, we would need to review all the evidence to ensure that Citizens Advice has correctly interpreted its anecdotal surveys. We appreciate that enforcement action can be distressing, but it is the ultimate sanction available to councils to recover £5 billion unpaid debt that funds essential services, such as adult care, fire and police services and even pothole repairs and street lighting.

CIVEA has worked closely to establish independent oversight of our industry and is pleased to see that a Business Plan for the Enforcement Conduct Board has been published today.”


For immediate release: 22 March 2023

Notes for editors:

CIVEA is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies employing over

1700 certificated enforcement agents that operate in England and Wales.

CIVEA represents approximately 40 companies that make up more than 95% of the entire enforcement industry. CIVEA’s members work to enforce civil debt on behalf of local authorities and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). This amounts to over £550 million (half a billion) of unpaid taxes and fines recovered each year at no cost to the public bodies themselves. Each year CIVEA members receive c5 million warrants and court orders for payments owed to central and local government.

The Enforcement Conduct Board (ECB) officially launched in the Welsh Parliament on November 16th and at the House of Commons, London, on November 22nd. The new body will provide independent and objective oversight of civil enforcement work.

These Regulations make provision relating to the procedure for taking control of goods under Schedule 12 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 (c. 15) (“the Act”). The Act provides a new statutory code in relation to taking control of goods in order to sell them to enforce the payment of debts (formerly known as “distress”). By section 62 of the Act, the Schedule 12 procedure is available where an enactment, writ or warrant confers the power to use the procedure.

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