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How can an EA sort out the mental health issues with defaulters and debtors? Having started a thread some time ago maybe now that this part of EA discussions is now active maybe some of you would like to read up on this here http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?441693-Mental-Capacity-and-debt

 

 

It is a good thread with plenty of links and information, it goes in to detail how to deal with MH issues and debt, if this type of information could be inserted into the EA's common practise and standards that would be an achievement by them.

 

 

What do you think?

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Interesting thread, a lot of information, a bit of bedside reading for me, good bit of research MM.

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Thx DB didn't think you would come to see, but glad you have. Yes there is a lot if info here and a serious read too. There will be more going on this thread over the next few months I hope, as well as constructive debate too.

 

 

There is a lot of good info to be posted yet but I don't want to flood the thread too much. When you have had time to read it may be you will post some thoughts about your views?

 

 

MM

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Certainly

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It seems to me that where a Debtor claims to be vulnerable, especially under MH issues, the most sensible thing to happen should be the EA, or at least their office refers the case immediately to a nominated person at the Council for immediate/urgent review.

 

At the end of the day, a Local Authority, via a trained expert in its Social Services Department is going to understand the vulnerability issues being claimed vastly better than whichever Call Centre Drone, the EA's Office has sat down in front of a Wikipedia article for an hour, or whatever and shifted into the "Welfare Department" and can thus make a better judgement call as to whether EA enforcement should continue, and if so, how. Unless we are expected to believe that each EA Company has hired a fully trained and experienced Social Worker, and that seems unlikely, to me.

 

Especially since the SS Department could very well already be dealing with, or know the person claiming vulnerability, and could say fairly quickly "aye, she's got serious MH issues, back off" or "oh god, not him, he's always trying it on, he's not vulnerable for purposes of enforcement..."

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Agree Caled, if they blinder on without checking with SS if the debtor is known to them, when the vulnerable debtor tops themselves or goes after the WA with an axe as he was hearing voices, they will be in the doo doo and the press.

 

Perhaps there could be a waiver form the debtor could sign to allow the EA Company or the council to check with the debtor's GP where there is an underlying but not immeidiately apparent medical condition.

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Agree Caled, if they blinder on without checking with SS if the debtor is known to them, when the vulnerable debtor tops themselves or goes after the WA with an axe as he was hearing voices, they will be in the doo doo and the press.

 

Perhaps there could be a waiver form the debtor could sign to allow the EA Company or the council to check with the debtor's GP where there is an underlying but not immeidiately apparent medical condition.

 

It wouldn't exactly be difficult at pre liability order stage to check names against a database, and think "ah, so and so has X issue, maybe an LO and EA action isn't the way to go yet"

 

Aren't the Local Authoritiys supposed to check for vulnerability issues before sending off to EA anyway? They DON'T, but they are, or were supposed to.

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It wouldn't exactly be difficult at pre liability order stage to check names against a database, and think "ah, so and so has X issue, maybe an LO and EA action isn't the way to go yet"

 

Aren't the Local Authoritiys supposed to check for vulnerability issues before sending off to EA anyway? They DON'T, but they are, or were supposed to.

 

I think they should check, there would surely be a note on the account is there was an identified vulnerability. Problem is there is virtually no human intervention, the whole process is automatic by a computer system, so they would need to insert a line of code, say something like this in simplistic terms and not any computer language:

 

Arrears >£50 goto letter

Arrears unpaid 14 days goto summons

 

Would need something like

 

Arrears >£50 goto letter;

IF account Vulnote Y/N; if Y abort process flag to account record;

IF N and Arrears unpaid 14 days; goto summons.

 

Of course as Capita supply many councils with the software even if not infesting the back office would want an arm and leg to alter it.

 

If the flag was sent to Revenues Team Leader they could intervene at that point.

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I'd love to read this. As you know, and most others on here know, I have my share of MH issues and was previously in a lot of debt which led to me setting up a fully licensed, and highly successful, debt charity which I funded myself to try to give something back for the help I'd received.

 

Sadly I cannot see any link to anything on the thread. I thought immediately of the MALG guidelines which, I note, are on there in post 2. I was hoping to read the others, but there's no link. Is it possible to post one up here please?

 

I know many with MH issues have debt issues and it is an area which concerns the RCP. With the MALG guidelines it is possible, in the right circumstances, to get substantial amounts written off entirely.

 

I look forward to being able hopfully to access a link.

 

Thanks MM.

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I didn't realise that when you delete PDF's from your "store" it wipes them off of the thread too so here is the link again

 

 

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:vaDO9m8w6goJ:www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pdf/Debt%2520and%2520MH%2520-%2520evidence%2520report%2520(10_12_17).pdf+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=uk

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The problem is I suspect many Councils use multiple systems, with little to zero intergration.

 

I worked in 2 roles for a City Council. Bit of a long winded post, but its just to show how chaotic even a fairly modern city council making use of IT is in its deployment

 

First was Out of Hours Emergency/Repair line, so we would send out a contracted gas engineer at 3am, or sat/sun afternoon in winter to fix a broken boiler, or act as liaison between Police & Highways to close off roads/perform cleanup after RTA's or other major incidents, and we had the Peace & Emergency phone, & equipment to set up emergency response room should a bomb go off/be threatened out of hours, or a Flood began occuring, that sort of stuff.

 

Day staff used the main council system OASIS, but for some arcane reason we on OOH had no access to it, we used a special 3rd party Software, which would then be imported into OASIS by the day shift (well, one hopes, but frankly, & from repeat customers, not with much optimism.....) So for example, because we had no OASIS access, we couldn't tell if a Tenant was vulnerable, or had other issues, technically we werent supposed to "prioritise" but when it were a freezing cold Yorkshire Winter, and about -1 and we had a call from a very unwell sounding OAP who's literally freezing to death and a call from a 20 something whining not that she's cold, but that her "kid wont get a shower before school in the morning" (god forbid!!! :madgrin:) well, we were only human, or we have a young guy who clearly sounds like or admits he has mental health issues, his window has just been smashed and he is freaking out that people might try and get in, vs a middle aged normal person with broken window, then again, only human etc, that was the more normal stuff where access to the proper system would have helped, that was bad enough, but the risk that lack of access, and the fact our nightly inputs werent often, if ever inputted put our Contractors into was unforgivable.

 

the City was split into 4 "HA's" and each HA out of hours was covered by 1 gas plumber, 1 Joiner and 1 Electrician (though the sparkys often covered a couple of HA's) so these guys at night were literally on their own. IF we had OASIS access we would have gotten the "PV" Markers (Warning: Potentially Violent) which is attached to the files of people who have been violent to, or made threats of violence towards Council Staff. So we were frankly risking the contractors necks every time we sent them out, not having that access - in daytime where they can see the PV Markers, they would either send 2 contractors, a council security guard with a contractor, or if previous behaviour serious enough, Police with contractor, or arrange for 3rd party only to be present. And there were a few times where our contractor had to leg it, or the tenant had made threats on phone to us, so there was no way we were sending 1 guy on his own. Once a week at least , we would give an address, to get a "no way, we don't touch this one out of hours, he's attacked us before" or "the house is unsafe, they are junkies, and the floor is literally covered in needles, urine & faeces! :!: )

 

So we would mark our file as PV or as unsafe for OOH Visit, but of course, as they never bothered consolidating if OASIS hadn't already got them logged... daytime contractors were in for fun and games. Ooh, they DID consolidate it once in a "busy" week where we marked 2 PV's, 1 from behaviour on phone, 1 as Contractor remembered address, and being attacked there, and 1 crack house, thus majorly unsafe, health, hygiene and unpredictibility of crackheads. And we got a very nasty email from some chinless twunt on Days asking why we were marking people as PV and contractors refusing to go!!!!!! the idiot genuinely thought we should send 1 person to a house where they had personally been attacked before by the tenant!

 

Then I was in Building Services, much better run department, decent managers who cared about their staff and contractors, and where I bizarrely HAD OASIS access, to add invoices to properties for surveys our dept had carried out. So one job where we needed it, we didnt get it, the next, we didnt really need it, but got it. Social Services OOH shared a little building with us for a while at my OOH, and they too had to use a different system to the day staff, though I don't know if intergration was any better. They also only had 2 people to cover an entire city OOH, and man the phones when not out on a call.

 

And I do recall that OASIS wasn't intergrated with Social Services. So a complete and utter mess, and I imagine most Councils are the same. Why have 1 simple, easy to use and view system, when you can have 3 or 4 complex, expensive ones?

 

I can virtually guarantee that an automated process to trigger Brassnecked's suggestion would require an entirely new system, for each and every council. But there is no reason why an Admin bod can't sit there checking a list of names against the SS system.

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I must admit to being in two minds about this. From the EAs point of view, i can understand the reaction on being presented with a debtor who is pleading vulnerability, i am betting he receives such claims on virtually every other case he gets. It is the easiest thing for a debtor to claim, as there is generally no outward sign of the disability and especially if no medical documentation is available to back up the claim.

 

Unfortunately the advice given on many internet sites is to claim vulnerability or exemption when a EA calls. You can hardly blame the agent from regarding such a claim with a jaundiced eye. It is unfortunate that as is usual the person who suffers most form this "advice" is the genuinely disadvantaged debtor.

 

If there is no record of any previous claim on the authorities record, you must wonder why is it that after all the previous letters and warnings, the subject of vulnerability only arrises when the bailiff knocks

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Although not on topic but related to this subject is the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) and the claimant being known as unable to manage their finances and can arrange help. What would be an idea is for the relevant other departments being able and willing to read this information that could be held by the DWP. This was issued in 2012/2013 and a useful read.

 

 

Data sharing is getting more easily used by other departments so if the LA is already aware that a claimant is in this group then surely making the recovery department aware should now be second nature, but sadly it is not, especially if Capita are in the LA's back office. Which is a conflict of interests is it not?

 

 

MH and debt is as you can see very complex and little understood by many creditors simply because they do not have the full training that medical staff do. These are my points only but as someone that relies on others for help at times I feel that there is a need to bring this to the forefront asap.

 

 

Mind have a guidance manual for MH and a great read as well you can find it here http://www.mind.org.uk/media/273468/still-in-the-red.pdf I will wait for further responses to allow readers time to read digest and come up with some observation regarding the MIND report..

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But there seems to be some issues with the disclosure of sensitive information to 3rd parties including the EA see 2.5 in this link

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/307156/data-sharing-guide-april-14.pdf

 

 

So with the known issues of the LA dealing with a vulnerable person what can they do with the information they currently have access to but cannot disclose to a 3rd party like the EA, as you can clearly see there could be more issues in dealing with known vulnerable persons in the long run. you may want to read that above link in full and take some time to digest the contents...

 

 

Bearing I mind the following information regarding DPA issues and disclosure

 

 

• the law that governs the actions of public bodies (administrative law);

• the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights;

• the common law tort of breach of confidence;

• the Data Protection Act 1998; and

• European law.

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It would need more Councils to do this as the norm rather than a trial. It may cost initially by having to have a small team put together but would hope the benefits would far outweigh the costs as believe it could be self financing in better collection rates overall.

 

http://www.thewestonmercury.co.uk/news/council_stop_bailiff_cases_for_tax_collection_in_trial_1_4256943

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To assist DB in his post @9

 

 

You can get an idea that the LA already has a partial remit in place regarding some disabled persons and vulnerability for this please see here https://www.gov.uk/council-tax/discounts-for-disabled-people so with this part being in/on the claimants files already this could then be looked at should arrears happen and would allow the LA to possibly look at other enforcement action, then you have this as well, what the LA describes as severely mentally impaired (SMI). For a definition on this please see here http://www.tameside.gov.uk/counciltax/discounts/mentallyimpaired#1 . But not all claimants are aware that they cam claim the extra benefit as it is not normally advertised prominently. (I know many readers have MH issues but really they should speak to their LA and make them aware of this even if there are arrears already as their claim could be backdated, (if they qualify for this)

 

 

With the added information @ 10.1 of this link (below) it may be of interest to those looking to have their claim backdated due to a disability that was not processed at the time of the claim see here, http://www.ageuk.org.uk/Documents/EN-GB/Factsheets/FS21_Council_Tax_fcs.pdf?dtrk=true should you not live in England please see s14 of the above link...

 

 

It has also been noted in s12 p16 that the LA allows you up to 21 days to notify them of a change of circumstances, (this may be different in other LA areas so please check yours for accurate times please...

 

 

Sorry for the extra links but I did say there was a lot of other information available and I hope this helps readers and viewers too...

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Sorry, I was under this impression this thread was about EAs and mental health as this is its title. The links refer to the adjustment of the CT before the bill is issued and usually results in a banding adjustment. I had forgotten who,s thread it was. The first link doesn't work BTW, account suspended ?

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To assist DB in his post @9

 

 

Also what does this refer to, was it a typo?

 

I dont post on twitter ?

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They really should have added in a line to the new act simply stating that an EA should upon a debtor claiming vulnerability immediately pass it to the vulnerable peoples dept & the council for investigation.

 

Yes some people try it on, and under the above would simply not get away with it. An EA is not qualified to make decisions about vulnerability, and it should not be left to their discretion, especially when they have a vested interest in ignoring the vulnerability claim and continuing to attempt to enforce whilst at the door.

 

The fact that the genuinely vulnerable could have their health severely impacted by the EA's behaviour far outweighs the "hassle" of the EA having to go away to investigate.

 

Be interesting for a newspaper or TV people to make contact with people who are vulnerable and facing enforcement, to set up hidden cameras and see exactly what is going on, on the shop floor. I bet away from the film crew camera's, Bob Pinner's shower are far less likely to contact their vulnerability team......

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Unfortunately enforcment cannot function any other way. The agent cannot return the order back to the creditor every time the debtor pleads vulnerability, nothing would ever be collected.

It has to be the EA who decides in the first instance if the debtor is vulnerable or not and it is upto the debtor to provide proof to support any claim.

 

In cases of genuine vulnerability you wouldn't think that this would be an issue.

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Unfortunately enforcment cannot function any other way. The agent cannot return the order back to the creditor every time the debtor pleads vulnerability, nothing would ever be collected.

It has to be the EA who decides in the first instance if the debtor is vulnerable or not and it is upto the debtor to provide proof to support any claim.

 

In cases of genuine vulnerability you wouldn't think that this would be an issue.

 

I didn't suggest returning the order, I suggest holding enforcement a couple days whilst the person claiming vulnerability provides proof, easy to do if genuinely vulnerable.

 

Even if they have medical proof, the EA is not qualified to understand that proof, and what to a layman like me or the EA might not seem like vulnerability could very well be.

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I didn't suggest returning the order, I suggest holding enforcement a couple days whilst the person claiming vulnerability provides proof, easy to do if genuinely vulnerable.

 

Even if they have medical proof, the EA is not qualified to understand that proof, and wlhat to a layman like me or the EA might not seem like vulnerability could very well be.

 

There is provision in the act for enforcement to be halted whilst the debtor can locate help of course. But I think there is a misunderstanding of the function of the EA, he is not a social worker, he is there to collect a debt. There will be guidance on how he should behave, but much will depend on his experience in the field.

 

The debtor is on a sticky wicket in any case if the first mention of vulnerability is brought up at the enforcement visit, as you would have to wonder why it was that the matter had not been raised when the debt became due, In any case the vulnerability protection available under the TCE can only delay the enforcement action, it does not settle the debt.

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There is provision in the act for enforcement to be halted whilst the debtor can locate help of course. But I think there is a misunderstanding of the function of the EA, he is not a social worker, he is there to collect a debt. There will be guidance on how he should behave, but much will depend on his experience in the field.

 

The debtor is on a sticky wicket in any case if the first mention of vulnerability is brought up at the enforcement visit, Especially if they have an underlying unknown health problem and collapse in front of the EA on the doorstep with a heart attack or stroke .as you would have to wonder why it was that the matter had not been raised when the debt became due, In any case the vulnerability protection available under the TCE can only delay the enforcement action, it does not settle the debt.

Would the EA phone for an ambulance, or step over the unconscious debtor and Take Control of Goods?

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