Enforcement Agents (bailiffs) will implement a phased return to activity following the lifting of lockdown restrictions. The measures are set out in a Post-lockdown Support Plan announced today by the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA).
CIVEA consulted the government on the Post-lockdown Support Plan that will mean local authorities and courts can safely enforce overdue council tax, business rates, parking and traffic penalties and magistrates’ court fines.
Anyone who has missed a payment or been out of contact will receive a standard reconnection letter that seeks to understand how they have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and respond as appropriate. When enforcement can resume following the lifting of emergency regulations, individuals will be given 30 days’ notice of a visit by an enforcement agent (unless the local authority has specific requirements).
Before resuming visits all enforcement agents will be given additional, mandatory CIVEA-approved training on how to protect themselves and those that they encounter in the community. In addition:
- Visits will be contactless in line with CIVEA safe working practices guidance
- Enforcement agents will practice social distancing and comply with enhanced hygiene techniques (including their vehicles and equipment), as set out by the Government and Public Health England
- Enforcement agents will wear appropriate workwear and hygiene supplies to protect and reassure staff and members of the public
- Enforcement agents will not enter premises to take control of goods
- Where appropriate vulnerable people or those who have been severely impacted financially by the pandemic, e.g. loss of job, Statutory Sick Pay, will be referred to debt advice agencies for additional support.
- Vulnerable people will be referred to their creditor for additional support
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of CIVEA, explained: “CIVEA members fully accept that to simply restart enforcement visits once the Government eases restrictions without understanding how people have been impacted by the crisis would not be acceptable. The measures included in the Post-lockdown Support Plan are a sensible and proactive response to an exceptional situation. Enforcement of public debt continues to be an important service to recover outstanding taxes and fines, which contributes to funding essential local services. Our Plan allows us to carry out our civic duties in line with public health advice.”