Debt Collectors in Liverpool are expected to be chasing up around 30,000 debts owed to Liverpool City Council this year.
After the local authority approved a two-year extension to the contract for debt collectors in Liverpool on the very same day the existing terms were due to run out, a report to members of the finance and resources committee has revealed how busy they expect this year to be and how it will “assist with the council’s immediate financial requirements.” Liverpool Council agreed to enlist the services of enforcement agents in January 2019 to round up funds owed around council tax, business rates and parking.
The local authority has contracted Jacobs, Newlyn, Bristow & Sutor and JBW for the task which brings in around £3.5m annually to the Cunard Building in council tax and business rates alone. Contracts with four enforcement agents began on June 21, 2019, for three years, with the option to extend for a further two.
That agreement was scheduled to run out on June 21, the same day new terms were arranged. The decision to renew the contracts was deemed a “key decision by virtue of its importance to ensuring robust collection mechanisms are in place to ensure the financial resilience of the council.”
With the onset of the covid-19 pandemic in 2020, enforcement action was stopped, but like with most local authorities, Debt collectors in Liverpool were re-engaged to collect on their behalf from last month. The report to councillors said referring to agents was “one element of the revenues and benefits service post Covid-19 recovery plan. This plan aims to restart and consolidate many of the council tax and business rates collection and enforcement activities that were suspended during the pandemic.”
These are made when an individual has persistently failed to pay the amount due, and when all other recovery options have been exhausted. This action is taken “against people who are able to pay, but choose not to.”
Strict protocols are in place among certain groups that may be especially vulnerable. Debt collectors are now subject to national codes of conduct and locally agreed protocols that ensure residents are protected at all times.
According to the report, the level of debt recovered by debt collection firms in Liverpool is “critical to the council’s finances” and as a consequence it is likely that up to 30,000 debts will be referred to the debt collectors during this year. It added: “The use of enforcement agents is recognised as an appropriate and effective method of debt recovery.”