In this week's Leading the Way blog, we reflect on why enforcement is still an integral part of the collections process and why Bristow & Sutor remains a partner of choice.
Enforcement is an essential deterrent and directly affects local communities, providing funding for essential frontline services such as adult social care, refuse collections, police and fire services. Uncollected tax means less money for services and higher bills for the rest of the community who do pay on time.
At Bristow & Sutor, our enforcement agents (EAs) help local authorities and clients such as Transport for London (TfL) recover millions of pounds of lost revenue in unpaid taxes and fines each year. This can include outstanding council tax, parking and traffic offences and more. We are not debt collectors and only get in contact after clients have tried to engage in communication themselves but have not had a response.
When we receive an instruction, statutory fees and charges will be applied to the case. This fee structure is regulated and set out in the law, designed to encourage people to make contact at an early stage and to cover the resources required when a debt continues to be left unpaid. All Bristow & Sutor agents wear body-worn cameras and video footage is constantly reviewed to monitor conduct and performance.
How can enforcement be a positive thing?
It is important to understand that the enforcement process is completely legal and enforced on behalf of local authorities and the Government. The easiest way to resolve debt is to contact us and discuss your circumstances, we are bound to the CIVEA code of practice and will work with you to find the most appropriate solution. Ignoring problem debt will only see the money owed increase and make the situation worse.
EAs can often be the first to identify those who are vulnerable when they visit their homes. If our agents encounter vulnerable people, enforcement action is suspended and we refer that person for additional support to dedicated welfare teams. In many cases, it is engagement with a Bristow & Sutor EA that results in people getting the support they need. Unlike some operators, we only use our own agents when working with local authorities - all of whom are directly employed. We take full ownership of our team’s methods and results, ensuring consistently high levels of service and quality, very low levels of complaints, and excellent collection rates.
We recognise the importance of transparent conversations, broadening knowledge and increasing understanding, which is why we work closely with the debt advice sector and regularly offer training and advice to these counterparts on our methods and approach.
So, why Bristow & Sutor?
When we were founded in 1977, we wanted to become the number one enforcement agent company, nationwide. Our ambition to lead the way in the enforcement sector is still clear to see today in our results and outcomes. Just last month at the inaugural CIVEA Awards, we won categories for Innovation and Training and Development. We are regularly audited to ensure we are as good as we say we are, and most recently passed our CIVEA audit with a flawless 100%.
We utilise the latest technology, including an award-winning debtor portal and an unrivalled suite of opportunities for conversations and contact to be made, from phone lines to webchat, SMS messaging and more. As part of our service, we support our clients' professional development with free training sessions.
We have a proven industry-leading record of consistently high collection rates and work with our clients to provide regular and comprehensive reporting and feedback. Our customers praise the expert advice and care that our relationship managers provide, trusting us to work independently to save them time and money.
We are proud to say that we receive very few complaints. When we do receive them, we recognise the need for a serious and highly efficient investigation process which is conducted by our independent Compliance Department.
Most importantly, we live our values of accountability, transparency, respectfulness and integrity. We are a responsible business and always attempt to add social value to the communities we engage with. That is why we invest significant time and resources into our charity partner, The Money Charity, as well as supporting a multitude of other worthy causes all year round.
A word from Bristow & Sutor Managing Director, Sally Leach…
“During my 30 years at Bristow & Sutor, I have had the pleasure of being part of the company’s growth and development, adapting to change & pushing ourselves forwards to achieve more.
Files have been replaced by computers, landlines by mobiles, faxes by emails, Community Charge by Council Tax, cash by bank transfers, Levies & Walking Possession by Compliance & Taking Control of Goods, and in more recent times a very quick move to home working.
In the last few years, we have moved on again to form part of the Bristow & Sutor Group, alongside Credit Style and Debt Recovery Plus, building new relationships to support our further development. Working with colleagues across the Group has been particularly rewarding not least because whilst things change some things stay the same with a supportive, committed workforce, who are always cool, calm & collected. I’m looking forward to seeing the next stage of this journey.”
If you are struggling to pay your debt, please contact us as soon as possible. Bristow & Sutor remains committed to its approach of being Cool, Calm and Collected.