Brentwood Borough Council

Brentwood Borough Council

Quick Links

Skip Navigation | Home page | Site map | Search | Help | Complaints procedure | Disclaimer | Feedback | Access key details
Brentwood Borough Council

FOI 3013

Domestic Rates

Request

Can you please provide me with the following information

1 Does the council have a bailiff code of conduct in place and if so what is it?

2 does the council have a service level agreement with the bailiff and if so what is it?

3 How many liability orders did the council obtain for the year 2010/2011 up to the date this request is received?

4 How much does each liability order cost the council?

5 How much does the council add in charges to the debtors for gaining a liability order?

6 Do the council check before issuing the account to the bailiff to see if the debtors may be included in the 'vulnerable' category as defined by the national standards for enforcement agents?

7 If so, what checks are made, and what guidelines exist for these checks?

8 if checks are not made, why not?

9 are council employees trained in the correct procedures of the lawfil fees that bailiffs may apply?

10 Do the council check regularly to make sure that their appointed bailiffs are carrying out their duties correctly and within the law

11 Do the council have a complaints procedure in place for those debtors who have a grievance/issue over the Bailiffs actions other than referring them to the bailiff company?

12 are council staff trained to negotiate payment plans, when a bailiff has already been assigned, or are they required to refuse and to tell the debtor to contact the bailiff company

13 how many liability orders resulted in bailiff action in 2010/11?

14 of these, how many liability orders were successfully collected by bailiffs and how many were returned 'nulla bona'

15 how many arrest warrants were issued for non payment of liability orders in 2010/11?

16 which company is currently contracted to Brentwood council for the enforcement of liability orders?

17 Any information with regard the tender for Bailiffs, when they commenced their contract? and when it is up for re negotiation/renewal?

18 How many complaints were made to Brentwood council every year from 2005 to present regarding bailiffs?

19 how many bailiff related complaints were upheld each year?

20 what checks does Brentwood council make to ensure that bailiffs acting under its authority are correctly certified by a court?

21 are the council aware and do the council agree that they are responsible for any illegal action taken by the bailiffs that they employ?

Response

The following are responses to your questions:

1 Does the council have a bailiff code of conduct in place and if so what is it?
Yes - Copy of Bailiff Code attached

2 Does the council have a service level agreement with the bailiff and if so what is it?
Yes – The Service Level Agreement is not enclosed because parts of the agreement could be “commercially sensitive” as it is specific between Reventus and the Council.

However in general terms the Service Level Agreement covers:
General Standards
Operational Guidelines
Collection
General Issues
Bailiff Code of Practice etc.

3 How many liability orders did the council obtain for the year 2010/2011 up to the date this request is received?
2088 (2010/11) 2178 (2011/12) = 4266

4 How much does each liability order cost the council?

Typical Essex authority (based on 2010/2011 Budgets) Summons Costs Liability Order Costs
Staff Costs 42.95 38.65
Transport 0.42 0.38
Printing & Stationery 1.07 0.96
Legal fees 3.67 1.24
I.T. costs 4.45 4.00
Postage 1.84 1.65
Telephones 0.02 0.01
Bank charges & cost of debit card payments 0.55 0.50
Cash collection costs 0.31 0.28
Miscellaneous 0.14 0.13
55.42 47.81


The average costs in Essex in 1998 for the issue of a Summons was £40.00 (the highest being £50.00 and the lowest £25.00) with the average cost of obtaining a Liability Order being £32.32 (the highest being £40.00 and the lowest £17.50) hence the average cost of a Summons/Liability Order was £72.32.

On the 17 November 1999 at the District Councils (Recovery Enforcement Officers) & Essex Magistrates’ Courts meeting it was reported that “the table of costs in council tax enforcement proceedings had been presented to the Bench Chairmen’s forum. The bench chairmen were somewhat disappointed at the wide variation in the amount of costs that were claimed”.

Detailed costings were produced and passed to the Magistrates. The consequence was that the Magistrates’ agreed a reasonable sum for the costs of obtaining a Liability Order in Essex was £80.00.

Since that date and with the agreement of Her Majesty’s Court Service costs have risen in line with inflation (details below).

Costs as at 01 April 2000 £ 80.00
Inflation 2001 = 1.76% 81.40
2002 = 1.67% 82.75
2003 = 2.89% 85.14
2004 = 2.98% 87.67
2005 = 2.84% 90.15
2006 = 3.17% 93.00
Plus £2.40 court fee increase in 2006 £ 95.40
increased to £3.00 in 2010 £96.00

5 How much does the council add in charges to the debtors for gaining a liability order?

Please see answer to question 4

For issuing a summons and obtaining a Liability Order £95.00

6 Do the council check before issuing the account to the bailiff to see if the debtors may be included in the "vulnerable" category as defined by the national standards for enforcement agents?

The Council will check all cases individually before sending them to the bailiff. Some cases we are not aware of until contact is made with the bailiff

7 If so, what checks are made, and what guidelines exist for these checks?

We will check Anite for date of birth; we do within our time/staffing levels try to telephone the customer , benefit information etc.

8 if checks are not made, why not?
Sometimes no information is held

9 are council employees trained in the correct procedures of the lawfil fees that bailiffs may apply?

Regular meetings are held with the Councils Bailiffs

10 Do the council check regularly to make sure that their appointed bailiffs are carrying out their duties correctly and within the law

The Bailiffs have a Code of Conduct which must be followed. The council will investigate any complaint made about it’s Bailiff. What regular checks would you have us carry out?

11 Do the council have a complaints procedure in place for those debtors who have a grievance/issue over the Bailiffs actions other than referring them to the bailiff company?

The Council does have a complaints procedure

12 are council staff trained to negotiate payment plans, when a bailiff has already been assigned, or are they required to refuse and to tell the debtor to contact the bailiff company

When a customer contacts the Council regarding outstanding monies staff will discuss the debt with them – going through procedures which have taken place to enable an arrangement directly with the Council, Council staff will then refer customers back to the bailiff once an account has been issued to discuss payment. If during the conversation it is deemed the customer is “Vulnerable” consideration will be made to withdraw the account.

13 how many liability orders resulted in bailiff action in 2010/11?

530 liability orders resulted in bailiff action in 2010/11

14 of these, how many liability orders were successfully collected by bailiffs and how many were returned "nulla bona"

At present 528 are potentially being successfully collected by Bailiffs and 2 have been returned “Nulla Bona”

15 how many arrest warrants were issued for non payment of liability orders in 2010/11?

Nil

16 which company is currently contracted to Brentwood council for the enforcement of liability orders?

Reventus and JBW

17 Any information with regard the tender for Bailiffs, when they commenced their contract? and when it is up for re negotiation/renewal?

JBW took over the Councils previous bailiff (Hammond Hillman) – I cannot confirm when they began – pre 2009. Reventus began working with us in June 2011. The Council does not currently go out to tender, but we regularly review how we feel the bailiffs are working for us, with the SLA we can change bailiffs at anytime

18 How many complaints were made to Brentwood council every year from 2005 to present regarding bailiffs?

Council only holds data for this going back to the year 2009 /10. The number of complaints through the complaints process are as follows:

2009 / 10 Nil
2010 / 11 1
2011 / 12 2 (including yours)

19 how many bailiff related complaints were upheld each year?

Nil

20 what checks does Brentwood council make to ensure that bailiffs acting under its authority are correctly certified by a court?

We can check on a website which details all certified bailiffs

21 are the council aware and do the council agree that they are responsible for any illegal action taken by the bailiffs that they employ? ?

This would depend entirely on the nature of the illegal action