Following on from our previous ‘Business Rates’ blog, covering the highlights of this year’s IRRV Revenues and Enforcement conference held at Keele, please find the second blog in the series which focuses on what was covered on the topic of Enforcement.
Enforcement one year on looked at how new compliance requirements introduced last year have impacted Local Authorities and the enforcement agencies they have appointed to collect on their behalf.
There have been a number of positive results reported including a 50% decrease in unnecessary doorstep visits across the industry. This has resulted in reduced costs to collect and a focus on better quality data being provided with administration errors being picked up on more quickly and new occupiers being identified more easily.
Conference delegates heard how there is now more qualification around vulnerable people. With better advice and training given to enforcement agents on how to handle those identified as vulnerable and signpost them in the direction of where they can get help and more suitable payment terms agreed. Firms are also getting better at assessing what is meant by vulnerable based on a variety of factors including mental capacity, bereavement, addiction, divorce and a whole host of other areas.
There has also been a reported reduction in complaints since the compliance requirements were brought in and a tendency for non-payers to engage more with authorities if it avoids a visit being required.
Enforcement agencies are also now finding that they are recruiting a different type of Enforcement Agent with different skill sets focussing on good communication skills and taking a zero tolerance policy on non-compliance of regulations. Performance reviews we were told, are also regularly carried out to focus on driving the right behaviours.
Technology is also being employed to help evidence where visits have taken place incorporating body worn video camera equipment, GPS tracking of staff as well as better mobile and social apps to drive better communications onsite. When used alongside real time data analytics with auditing and e-learning applications pushing relevant content to specific agents, enforcement firms claim to have a real finger on the pulse of what is going on at any point in time. One agency noted that collection rates were around 3-5% improved under the new compliance regulations.
Find out what was covered on the topic of ‘Council Tax’ at the IRRV Keele Conference here >