CIVEA is the principal trade association representing civil enforcement agencies employing around 2000 certificated enforcement agents that operate in England and Wales.
CIVEA represents 40 companies that make up over 95% of the entire enforcement industry.
Certificated enforcement agents enforce non-High Court orders which includes non-payment of Council Tax, business rates, parking and traffic offences, fines from the magistrates’ courts, or a failure to pay commercial rent. Civil enforcement agents are not debt collectors and are only used after councils have been unable to collect the debt themselves. Enforcement agents are empowered by law to take control of goods to be sold to cover the cost of outstanding debts. In practice this is very rare and mostly relates to the auctioning of vehicles.
It is an important feature of collection that the number of cases from initial reminder notice, through final reminder notice and summons, to the granting of a Liability Order drops by around 50% in each action as customers understand the seriousness of each stage.
As local government finances come under continued pressure, the work that our members undertake is becoming increasingly important. For instance, £4.4 billion of council tax remains outstanding in England and Wales that could pay for essential local services, such as schools, children’s services, road repairs and refuse collection and recycling.
The enforcement industry has evolved in response to social, economic and environmental conditions. It is comparable with any other business sector and is arguably leading reforms in local government debt management post-Covid. We now have firm plans for an independent, industry oversight body – the Enforcement Conduct Authority – which will have the powers to drive up standards and drive out bad practices.
Enforcement agents are often the first to identify people in vulnerable situations, particularly during enforcement visits. If agents encounter vulnerable people, enforcement action is suspended, and they will refer that person for additional support to welfare teams and council support services.
Enforcement agents undertake extensive training on all levels of vulnerability to help people engage with the debt enforcement process. Not all vulnerability prevents an individual from repaying their debts.
CIVEA offer Corporate, Private or Public Sector categories of membership for enforcement agents and companies working throughout England and Wales.
We issue a mandatory ‘Code of Conduct and Good Practice Guide’ to all our members.
During the pandemic we published the industry-leading Lockdown Support Plan, which ensured that Enforcement Agents were able to return to work at the earliest opportunity.
The pandemic has brought CIVEA members together operationally and strengthened our relationship with the government. The Paymaster General wrote to CIVEA to thank us on behalf of the entire government for all our efforts during the crisis. Alex Chalk MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, wrote:
“I am grateful for the steps the enforcement industry has taken to adapt to [COVID-19] and for your commitment to ensuring the balance required between the needs of the creditor and debtor in enforcement proceedings.”
As a member of CIVEA you will:
- Help shape national policy
- Maintain exceptional standards
- Be part of the reform of the enforcement sector
By working with the Ministry of Justice alongside other government departments and agencies we ensure a fair deal for enforcement agents – whether an individual or a company.
Our members help shape new policies and share best practice for the benefit of the industry as a whole.
CIVEA was instrumental in the design and delivery of the Enforcement Conduct Authority (ECA), the industry’s first, independent oversight body.
The ECA is a responsible initiative to enhance public debt collection and protect both the financially vulnerable and other taxpayers and local services. With the support of the debt advice sector, civil enforcement is leading reforms in local government debt management in a post-Covid community.