Improving debt management and recovery

Credit Today’s Public Sector Credit Conference offers an unparalleled opportunity for public sector professionals and credit industry representatives to gain insight into how both sectors can work together successfully.
    
On 21 September at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, the conference will bring together national government departments, local authorities, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) and data agencies to debate the latest issues and industry challenges.
    
The big topics for the event include use of private sector techniques to improve debt management and recovery, meeting the challenges of collecting debt in a recession, fighting fraud in local government and changes to the 2007 Tribunals and Courts Enforcement (TCE) Act. These will be debated by a top panel of speakers at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

TCE REFORM

Of paramount importance to the enforcement industry will be any changes made to the TCE Act and Credit Today will be the first to shed new light on the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) plans for TCE reform. The MoJ already revealed earlier this year that it is considering a tiered fee structure for enforcement agents, who work with councils across the UK, as part of the Act’s reforms. High court enforcement officers have worked with MoJ officials on potential fee structures for the best part of two years.
    
The MoJ is due to provide some much-anticipated updates on this and other areas of the legislation.
    
The MoJ will explain to delegates how changes within the Act will impact public sector organisations and enforcement firms, who have been waiting for an update following delays during the past 18 months. Progress was initially postponed after it was decided that the sections on regulation and the provisions contained within the Act needed more work.

TECHNOLOGY AND DEBT RECOVERY

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) will also appear, elaborating on its use of technology and the impact that these developments have had on debt recovery. Alison Cunningham, performance director of debt management at DWP, will talk about how the department has modernised and improved its contact centres. She will also outline the private sector customer management techniques that the department is now trialling and assessing the impact this has had on debt scoring and customer segmentation.
    
DWP will also provide the audience with insight on the department’s latest policy initiatives on debt recovery.
    
Andrew Hobley, senior investigator at the LGO, will also be speaking at the event, and will explain to the audience best practice techniques for councils to deal with debtors who are struggling with council tax. Hobley will also shed light on how best to improve communications processes between council departments, to ensure that all departments are working together to achieve the best results.

AVOIDING FINES
The ombudsman has issued damning reports and fines against high-profile councils across the country in the last three years. Manchester City Council, Wolverhampton City Council and Brighton and Hove Council have all had to pay redress to residents after issuing bankruptcy proceedings over unpaid concil tax without due regard for the debtor’s circumstances.
    
Meanwhile, the London Borough of Camden had to annul bankruptcy proceedings it had issued against a woman with mental health problems, which were known to part of the council outside the revenues department. At the time the LGO said this case in particular highlighted the need for better communication across council departments.
    
The conference agenda will also provide insight on the fight against fraud in local government. Sally Gubbins, national fraud initiative co-ordinator at the Audit Commission, will address issues of how detecting and preventing single person council tax fraud, false housing benefit claims and discount reviews can aid the protection of the public purse.
    
The Audit Commission will also discuss how to gather the necessary data to identify fraud and improve debt recovery, and give an overview of the results of the 2008/09 national fraud initiative, combined with some case studies from the initiative and a look ahead to its direction regarding private sector involvement and other areas of data matching.

DEBT COLLECTION AND THE RECESSION
Credit reference agency Experian will provide thorough insight into the challenges of debt recovery thrown up by the recession. Delegates will be shown strategies for those who cannot pay due to the effects of recession, how to put together manageable payment plans for debtors and how to assess the extent to which a corporate debt policy could streamline processes and reduce costs.
    
The day will end following a panel discussion between representatives from the London Borough of Hounslow, the London Borough of Ealing and the DWP, examining how the best results can be achieved from public and private sector partnerships.
    
Offering a special rate of just £99 for public sector professionals, and £379 for suppliers, Credit Today’s Public Sector Credit conference will provide an essential platform for individuals who are pivotal in bringing the public and private sectors closer together.

Web: www.credittoday.co.uk/publicsectorcredit.cfm

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