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IMA conference bdac - bailiffs action

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IMA conference bdac - bailiffs action

  1. 1. Improving relationships with and working practices of local authorities. Tamra Mannin Bristol Debt Advice Centre 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. Introduction <ul><li>BDAC providing free advice 21 years </li></ul><ul><li>Increased number of clients with complaints and problems in dealing with council tax & bailiffs </li></ul><ul><li>Bailiff Survey over 1 year period </li></ul><ul><li>PPIP Project running for 2 years </li></ul>02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Which is the Odd one out? 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Aims of the workshop <ul><li>To engage your local authority in meaningful dialogue. </li></ul><ul><li>To effect change to obtain a better deal for your clients. </li></ul><ul><li>To make your life a bit easier as an advisor. </li></ul>02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Waking up the Graveyard Shift 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>How it used to be – Frank makes a call….
  7. 7. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>Bailiff Survey - Fact finding <ul><li>Who’s in charge of the bailiffs? </li></ul><ul><li>LA service level agreements for bailiff collection </li></ul><ul><li>LA’s internal guidelines for payment arrangements </li></ul><ul><li>What LA’s do – what is law and what is local policy? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Bailiff Survey <ul><li>1 year </li></ul>02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul><ul><li>Other local agencies fed into project </li></ul><ul><li>Included information of over 40 cases </li></ul><ul><li>Focus was to examine the experience of people dealing with the council tax department and their bailiffs </li></ul>
  9. 9. Our Key Findings Were :- 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>92% did not think the bailiff had been helpful
  11. 11. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>68% of the clients identified that they were vulnerable.
  12. 12. <ul><li>100% felt their vulnerability was NOT taken into account. </li></ul>02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>85% said the bailiff did not take their financial circumstances into account.
  14. 14. <ul><li>70% contacted the Local Authority. </li></ul>02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul><ul><li>Only one person reported this to be successful. </li></ul><ul><li>And that was only successful because a benefit appeal had cleared his arrears! </li></ul>
  15. 15. Some of our recommendations to LA <ul><ul><li>The council should use deductions from benefit in preference to bailiffs and where this is not possible they should not send to bailiffs if information held of vulnerability. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The council should inform the customer where to obtain independent advice on their notices and letters. </li></ul><ul><li>When approached the council should deal with the council tax payer and not insist they deal with the bailiff company. </li></ul><ul><li>The council should not send accounts to more than one bailiff company for collection. </li></ul><ul><li>Where an advice centre raises a complaint, the council should acknowledge its responsibility. </li></ul>02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. LA Feedback 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul><ul><li>We received an Official Response from the Head of the Council Tax Department </li></ul><ul><li>The response disputed many of our conclusions and didn’t invite further exploration </li></ul><ul><li>This propelled us to look for funding to take this social policy issue further </li></ul>
  17. 17. Putting Policy Into Practice Project 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. So then… 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul><ul><li>Regular meetings with Group Leaders at council tax department </li></ul><ul><li>Presentations to council tax staff </li></ul><ul><li>Group Leaders met with advice staff at BDAC and other advice agencies </li></ul>
  19. 19. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>What were the key issues? <ul><li>Council Tax staff refusing to intervene with cases where bailiffs involved </li></ul><ul><li>Concerns by council tax that existing advice provision would not cope with referrals </li></ul><ul><li>Slow and cumbersome process when dealing with council tax debts. </li></ul><ul><li>A presumption by council tax that clients were “won’t pay” rather than “can’t pay”. </li></ul>
  20. 20. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>What was agreed: <ul><li>Fast track telephone number </li></ul><ul><li>30 day hold and instruction to bailiff companies to accept affordable repayment arrangements. </li></ul><ul><li>Customers in arrears asked if they would like independent debt advice. </li></ul><ul><li>A specific Council Tax Clinic and direct referral system for appointments. </li></ul>
  21. 21. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>Benefits to clients <ul><li>Affordable arrangements in place sooner avoiding higher costs </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced requirement to deal with bailiff companies is less stressful for clients </li></ul><ul><li>Advice is made available where multiple debts </li></ul><ul><li>Accounts are not sent to bailiffs where notes on file that customer is vulnerable </li></ul>
  22. 22. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>Benefits to LA <ul><li>More people maintaining payment arrangements </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer accounts where excessive bailiff costs have to be recovered first </li></ul><ul><li>Referral system in place for debt advice </li></ul><ul><li>Input on working practices from the advice sector </li></ul>
  23. 23. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>Benefits to bailiff companies <ul><li>Payment arrangements set up easier and more likely to be maintained </li></ul><ul><li>More likely to be successful in bidding for contracts with local authorities if they can show that they are working collaboratively with advice agencies </li></ul>
  24. 24. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>Benefits to Advice centres <ul><li>Quicker process for dealing with council tax debts enables us to assist more clients </li></ul><ul><li>Less need to compose long complaint letters </li></ul><ul><li>No need to complete a financial statement </li></ul><ul><li>Setting up affordable arrangements means there is less knock-on effect on other debts </li></ul>
  25. 25. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>Bonus benefit! – Corporate Debt Policy <ul><li>Wider influence – rent, benefits, parking </li></ul><ul><li>Simplifying and re-designing customer letters </li></ul><ul><li>Every £1 invested in financial capability, affordable credit and an integrated service between LA’s and advice agencies generates £8.40 for local region. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Frank makes another phone call…. 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Taking it forward 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Thanks for listening! 02/06/11 Bristol Debt Advice Centre <ul><ul><li></li></ul></ul>

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