With budget cuts affecting councils across Britain, it's worth looking at new ways to close the funding gap – such as higher empty home tax.
While we at Dukes Bailiffs specialise in ethical debt recovery, not all firms hold themselves to such high standards. Other companies' malpractice has tarnished the industry, and gave impetus to reforms that placed restrictions on Enforcement Agents' behaviour in 2014. Now Yvonne Fovargue, Labour MP for Makerfield, is proposing a bill that would further limit Enforcement Agents' conduct. Will the proposed changes have a positive effect?
What's on the cards?
If supported, Mrs. Fovargue's 'Regulation of Enforcement Agents (Collection of Council Tax Arrears) Bill' will lead to the establishment of an ombudsman position and turn existing 'good practice' guidelines on use of Enforcement Agents into legal requirements. At a time when uncollected council debts stand at at over £2bn, it's important that attempts to deal with rogue firms don't turn councils against ethical companies too.
If debt recovery outfits are acting responsibly and in line with 2014's interpretation of the 2007 'Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act', there should be no reason to fear the introduction of an ombudsman. What is concerning, however, is that Mrs. Forvargue is encouraging councils to avoid Enforcement Agents entirely. While we at Dukes Bailiffs support any changes that purge the industry of crude scare tactics, the suggestion that local authorities should look to establish "affordable repayment plans" instead of using Enforcement Agents utterly misrepresents our services.
A history of best practice
Our team of Debt Advisors and Enforcement Agents already use their expertise to produce affordable payment plans in conjunction with debtors and councils. We broke new ground by setting up a site dedicated to giving debtors money advice, and consistently go the extra mile to protect vulnerable individuals who've fallen into debt. This approach allows us to safeguard local authorities' reputations by making sure honest individuals aren't lumped in with deliberate non-payers.
We have a proven record of helping councils to maximise debt recovery, and pride ourselves on our transparent and competitive fee structure. New legislation should not deprive local authorities of ethical ways to boost dwindling budgets during austerity, and a distinction should be made between model Enforcement Agents and those who are lagging behind.
If you work for a local authority that's struggling to get by on austerity budgets, contact a Dukes Debt Advisor to find out how our services could help you today.