Self-funding sundry debt collection service for local authorities

There is continuing pressure on local authorities to collect their revenue streams including sundry debts from both businesses and individuals. Recovering sundry debts can be onerous due to high volumes, multiple historic invoices for one debtor and limited recovery options but Excel Civil Enforcement and High Court Enforcement Group (HCE Group), in partnership with DWF Law, have developed an innovative self-funding service.

Stage 1 - Office based debt collection service

Debt collection engagement letter – incorporating the latest in nudge theory and eye tracking techniques is sent to the debtor, advising them of debt amount and payment options. Using Telsolutions' trigger-based collections campaigns (SMS webforms, automated voicemail, emails with trackable links), we have increased engagement levels by over 40%!

Using Telsolutions campaigns, we can determine the next step in the recovery process based on the debtor’s behaviour; e.g. did they go straight to the debt advice pages? If this is the case, the debt will be passed over to the Excel welfare team. Was a payment declined? The case will go to the Excel outbound calls team to call the debtor and agree a new payment date.

Excel has invested in multiple communication channels for debtors, including a new debtor app, to make it as easy as possible for debtors to engage with us.

Stage 2- field based debt collection service

Whilst at this point the debt is not enforceable, a field agent will attend the debtor’s last known address and try to engage with them and collect payment in full or agree a payment plan. The field agent’s role is also part investigator to identify assets and glean information about the debtor’s circumstances. The intelligence gathered at this point is extremely valuable should a case progress to stages 3 and 4.

Where a case cannot be resolved by Excel through these 2 stages, a recommendation will be made to the local authority as to whether to pursue the debt further through DWF Law, litigation services or High Court enforcement action.

Stage 3 – litigation

DWF will screen all cases and identify which cases should be eligible for litigation and issue a pre-action letter.

Other eligible cases may proceed to the county court bulk processing centre for a county court judgment to be obtained. Obtaining a judgment allows the debt to be recovered via a writ of control, charging order, order for sale, attachment of earnings order, bankruptcy/ insolvency proceedings.

Where High Court enforcement is identified as the appropriate recovery route, the case returns to HCE Group for ‘transfer up’ to the High Court and a writ of control is issued. Some cases may be defended by the debtor, in which case further assessment will be undertaken.

Stage 4 – High Court

Once the writ is obtained, High Court enforcement can commence. The goal is to either agree a payment plan or to take payment in full at the compliance stage.

However, as the case has made it all the way to this stage in the process, an HCEO on the doorstep removing goods may be the only way to discharge the debt.

If we are initially unsuccessful, then cases enter our ongoing recovery processes. This is an office based multi-channel recovery regime designed to maintain recovery efforts.

Any remaining unsuccessful cases are returned with a full written report of all activities undertaken. Our goal, along with the goals of the partners we use to elicit recovery, is always to ensure we have complied with all the necessary legislation and to do what we can to recover the debt.

Any unsuccessful cases that have progressed to enforcement carry an abortive fee of £75 plus VAT.

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