Bristow & Sutor

Continuing to Prove Enforcement Effectiveness

March 2020

Bristow & Sutor continue to prove enforcement effectiveness

In 2019, Bristow & Sutor successfully remitted £88m to its clients, enough to invest in training for over 1250 new nurses. With high collection rates and low complaints, the results speak for themselves, the debt recovery process is effective when handled and held to a high standard.  

One of the UK’s leading players specialising in local authority debt recovery, the company has over 42 years’ experience in the collection of local council tax, non-domestic rates and penalty charge notices and employs 168 Enforcement Agents (EAs) located in strategic areas around the country. 

Bristow & Sutor is playing a key role in raising the profile of the sector to both the public and business communities, addressing a somewhat negative perception of how enforcement agencies collect debt. Working alongside the industry’s trade association, the Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA), progress is now being made. 

All of Bristow & Sutor’s EAs are fully employed to ensure the company retains full responsibility and accountability.  To provide full transparency on all visits, agents wear body cameras and travel in vehicles that are trackable.   

Unlike self-employed EAs, all Bristow & Sutor fully-employed agents are provided with a company car to carry out their duties.   In addition, a smartphone is supplied, with access to the company’s bespoke app which allows agents to manage cases allocated to them.  The app provides a four-way, real-time integration between the Client Portal, an award-winning Debtor Portal and back-office system, ECS,  automatically updating all systems immediately when one is updated.

Bristow & Sutor operates a policy of ‘case rotation’ meaning that an EA only has ‘ownership’ of the case for one week during which time they will undertake visits and update the case file using their PDA.  This means that when a further visit is undertaken, it will be carried out by a different EA who will have access to the case notes.  This ‘peer review’ is an important feature of the company’s model and can only be delivered through the use of directly employed staff. 

The company also invests heavily in training, spending over £800k annually on courses and continual professional development. Equating to, on average, nearly £2,000 per employee, this investment ensures that all cases are processed, managed and monitored by staff trained to exemplar industry standards of customer care. Having employed staff means that training is mandatory and EAs undertake a minimum of three months learning and mentoring before any work alone is undertaken. 

Andy Rose, CEO at Bristow & Sutor, reflected on the company’s performance; “We believe that our model, operating with a directly employed, accountable and well managed workforce, is a sound one for success. Local Authorities are under tremendous pressure at the moment to deliver both effective services and budget responsibility.  Working together with the industry as a whole is the best way to achieve this and to deliver best value to the citizen. 

Councils that engage with experienced and ethical enforcement agent firms, which consider the vulnerable and invest in a trained workforce, will not only produce positive future results but may nullify some misconceptions too.”