Government Promises to Do Better in its Dealings with Debtors

May 9, 2019

The government has issued statements indicating its commitment to improving the ways in which it interacts with individuals who are in debt to public bodies throughout the UK.

Representatives of local and central government, along with debt advice experts and debt collectors, have come together through a body called the Fairness Group to outline a series of aims relating to the ways in which people in debt are routinely treated.

A joint public statement has now been issued by the Fairness Group, which includes an explanation of the idea that the government should aim to “continually improve” how it “interacts with people in debt, particularly those in vulnerable circumstances”.

The statement goes on to say that all relevant parties should also work to understand the impact that debt collection practices can have on people and how outcomes might be improved.

It’s also been stated that the government should be aiming to stay in line with best practice within the sector as a whole when it comes to debt collection activities.

The Fairness Group has said it will aim to consistently focus on “balancing the statutory and societal obligations of government to collect debts and ongoing liabilities…with the need to ensure fairness”.

In response to the statements given on behalf of the government and its Fairness Group, Gillian Guy, chief executive of the charity Citizens Advice, has said that there should be fundamental reform of the ways local authorities have debts collected on their behalf.

Specifically, Citizens Advice wants to see changes made that mean people aren’t obliged to meet the costs of their entire annual council tax bills if they miss a single payment.

Ms Guy says that councils should be given the flexibility they need to “help people get their finances back on track”.

“Unfair and aggressive debt collection has a serious impact on those in financial difficulty,” Ms Guy has said.

“We’re pleased government is looking to improve these practices and collaborate more with the money advice sector.”

Paul Barber

Head Adviser at our Manchester Office

Tel: 0800 001 4247

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