As a general improvement to diligences CAS would like to see a set of pre-action requirements introduced into the process for public sector creditors to show that all reasonable attempts have been made to come to an arrangement prior to taking recovery action, and to ensure that diligence is used as a last resort.
The pre-action requirements should have a strong emphasis on:
- ensuring the debtor has been offered free independent debt advice
- not employing diligence where debtors or their representatives are making an effort to make repayment or to come to a repayment arrangement
- not employing diligence where the debt or the amount owed is disputed and enquiries have not yet been resolved (this is a particular issue with council tax summary warrants)
- not carrying out diligences on benefit dependent debtors, such as a funds arrestment on a bank account, where benefits are the debtor’s sole source of income
- not using a secondary diligence where one is already in place e.g. carrying out a funds arrestment where an earnings arrestment is already in force
CAS would also like to see the development of a condensed, single page, plain English document to accompany the current Debt Advice and Information Package booklet. A summary sheet may be more accessible to the debtor, and could have a clear message that the debtor should seek advice.
You can download CAS's full response to the consultation below.