Stacked coins

Framework focus on Debt Resolution Services

Designed to bring together a range of debt collection and data services into a single commercial agreement, the Crown Commercial Service’s DRS framework RM6226 has been built to provide a more consistent and integrated approach to debt resolution, and is aligned with the cross-government debt management strategy.

Levels of debt in the United Kingdom are expected to rise. The market expects the number of citizens and businesses in problem debt to increase, and therefore a surge in demand for services and advice.

For many public sector organisations, this is set against a backdrop of declining revenues from tax and business rates while the repayment of overpaid benefits and unpaid fines has also stagnated.  

Introduced in December last year, the Debt Resolution Services framework is available for use by central government departments and their arms-length bodies and agencies, as well as the wider public sector and third sector including local government, health, education, police, fire and rescue, housing associations and charities. It is for delivery primarily within the UK with some limited requirements overseas.

It brings together a range of expert suppliers from each area of the market to deliver private sector debt services, generating much-needed income, but in a fair and affordable way, aiming to deliver value for money and tangible social value.

This framework will run for four years, replacing Debt Management Services (RM6208) which expires in June, and the now-expired Debt Market Integrator framework. The agreement has 20 lots, each providing a different type of service.

Matthew Hooper, CCS’s senior category lead for revenue, recoveries, analytics and data, described the framework as having been “designed to be forward-looking with innovation at its heart”.

Financial Technology
Hooper told Government Fintech that this had been achieved in various ways, including the introduction of Lot 3 - Affordability, Assessment and Monitoring Applications. This area will see suppliers capitalising on the possibilities of financial technology to “provide solutions to the public sector to help them understand more about citizens’ and businesses’ specific and individual circumstances”.

“Through combinations of open banking and credit reference agency data, public authorities will be able to better identify potential vulnerability and find affordable and sustainable solutions, delivering value-for-money for the UK taxpayer, and fair outcomes for individual citizens and businesses.”

“Suppliers can offer open banking to citizens and businesses directly as an accurate, and efficient way to complete income and expenditure forms.             

“Alternatively, open banking providers can work with public sector customers directly, helping them understand consumer affordability and potential vulnerability. We expect suppliers on the framework to offer citizens and businesses the open banking payment option in the near future.”

“The services will support the public sector in a number of ways. At a very basic level, the services will simplify engagement for citizens and businesses. They will offer improved accessibility, digital options, including increased and improved self-service solutions.”

“They will also help public sector creditors to better understand customer circumstances – supporting fair treatment of citizens and businesses and fair outcomes for customers, for the public sector and for taxpayers. By understanding more about citizens and businesses, the public sector will be able to meet individual needs with bespoke solutions. For example, the public sector will be able to ensure that any debt repayment plans are affordable and sustainable. They will also be able to identify potential signs of vulnerability so that those individuals can be directed to appropriate support.”

Matthew Hooper concluded:  “In summary, the framework will offer high-quality, value-for-money private-sector solutions for the public sector. Suppliers will work in partnership with public-sector clients, both using best practice to drive improvement in outcomes.”
    
Stephen Coppard, formerly Deputy Director for the Government Debt Management Function and now Group Director of Debt Policy and Strategy at collections technology specialist Arum, was heavily involved in the development of the framework, having managed the introduction of the now-expired Debt Market Integrator. He stated: “I can’t begin to articulate what a fantastic job the team over at Crown Commercial Service has done to land this."

"DRS is a huge step forward for the government debt frameworks. It has the scope to provide an end-to-end process with the necessary ancillary services to make it as effective and efficient as possible. It delivers something for everyone, minimising cross-government procurement costs while leaving room for choice if desired."

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