The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) has confirmed its members will cease enforcing public debt during the coronavirus crisis.
Russell Hamblin-Boone, chief executive of the trade body, which represents civil enforcement agencies, wrote to the Ministry of Justice to confirm it is not enforcing debts during the outbreak.
Last week, CIVEA issued guidance to agents “not to enter homes and suspend enforcement where there is coronavirus”.
Since the CIVEA’s guidance was published and government advice updated, there has been a complete suspension of enforcement visits, whether to recover unpaid court fines, penalty charge notices, council tax or non-domestic business rates.
Agencies where skeleton staff continue to operate remotely, local authorities have requested that a “Iight-touch” communication is maintained, CIVEA said. This is primarily identifying vulnerable people and offering extensions to repayment plans and payment holidays.
Hamblin-Boone said: “We have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that people are protected during the cornovirus crisis. Enforcement agents are not enforcing debts. Many agents are working with the NHS to support the voluntary initiative and many firms have changed the use of their fleet vehicles to support deliveries of supplies. Where people are being contacted it is to extend payment plans or offer payment holidays.”