The Insolvency Service Newsletter, Autumn 2017

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Autumn 2017


Customer Service Excellence accreditation


The Insolvency Service has retained Customer Service Excellence accreditation following an independent assessment. The Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard is an independent quality mark that recognises organisations that have a strong customer focus, and is held by many leading public and private sector organisations. The standard is made up of 5 criteria covering customer insight, organisational culture, access to information, service delivery and timeliness and quality of service. The Insolvency Service has held the CSE standard, which replaced Charter Mark, since 1998.

Strengthened monitoring for large IVA providers

We have updated and strengthened our guidance for the five insolvency regulators (the regulated professional bodies or RPBs) on how they should monitor volume providers. . The changes to the guidance, first introduced in 2007, take account of developments in the market place and our work observing a number of RPB monitoring visits and related outcomes. The refreshed guidance has been developed jointly by the Insolvency Service and a range of stakeholders, including key creditors groups and the RPBs. The updated guidance has been strengthened throughout and key changes include:

  • a definition of a volume provider
  • explaining how we think RPBs should carry out their monitoring work both in terms of frequency and process
  • a focus on safeguarding client monies
  • sampling a wider range of cases
  • monitoring the fairness and cost of the use of other products and services
  • monitoring debt advice
  • a greater acknowledgment of the different business model adopted by large IVA providers

As part of our ongoing assessment of the effectiveness of the regulatory regime against the regulatory objectives introduced in October 2015, we will review how the RPBs implement this guidance. The publication of strengthened guidance is part of our wider project to assess the effectiveness of RPB monitoring work, which will be the subject of further reports to be published in the future.

Breathing Space call for evidence

The government included the introduction of  a breathing space scheme for people with personal problem debt in its election manifesto. HM Treasury has now launched a Call for Evidence which invites views on the best design for a scheme to give people in debt up to six weeks to take action, without accruing any further interest, charges, or being subject to any enforcement action. This period would allow individuals to seek financial advice about how to manage and relieve their debt burden. The government has also announced the intention to bring forward statutory debt management plans to formalise existing plans drawn up by debt advisers to help individuals repay their debts. The Call for Evidence closes on 16 January 2018.

Improved creditor communications nets award shortlist


Work to improve communications with creditors and make distributions more efficient saw our Long Term Asset & Distribution Team (LTADT) shortlisted for the Turnaround, Restructuring and Insolvency Award creditor engagement award. The team deals with the realisation of long term assets such as house sales and distributes realised funds to creditors. In 2016/17 it paid out a total of £46 million to creditors on 9,855 cases, representing in excess of 54,000 payments – and has distributed £170 million since LTADT was formed in 2013. Up to 75% of creditor claims come from three large collection agents and HM Revenue & Customs. LTADT have introduced a weekly electronic schedule of cases where dividends have been declared. Dividend notices are still published in the London Gazette but the new process has sped up the claims process and made it more efficient. The Insolvency Service has a Ministerial target to maximise returns to creditors and has set a performance measure to increase the value of distributions to creditors to £55 million or greater in the current year (up from £46 million in 2016/17).

New non-executive directors appointed

The Insolvency Service Board has welcomed three new non-executive directors to our Board:

  • Richard Oirschot is an experienced board director with a background in corporate recovery. He is a member of the Institute for Turnaround and is a licenced insolvency practitioner.
  • Mary Chapman has held many private, non-profit and public sector governance positions including as chief executive of the Chartered Management Institute, director of the Royal Mint and is currently a Trustee of the Archbishops’ Council of the Church of England.
  • William Trower QC has a financial and commercial practice which includes insolvency and corporate restructuring. He sits as a Deputy High Court Judge (Chancery Division) and was a member of the Insolvency Rules Committee between 2000 and 2011.

Board members are appointed initially for three year terms. The new non-executive directors replace Dame Elizabeth Neville, Tracey Bleakley and David Ereira who have now completed their service on the Board.

Insolvency Service complaints process revamped


We have implemented changes to our complaints process following a comprehensive review carried out over the past year. The aim of the review was to identify how we can resolve complaints at the earliest opportunity, improve performance and the quality of responses, and make the complaints process work as well as it can for our customers and the staff administering it, by making it simpler and easier to access. Changes include:

  • the adoption of a clear and considered complaint approach with a simplified route of access
  • centralised oversight of the complaints process
  • a consistent approach with the level at which complaints are handled across the agency
  • a revision of internal and external communications to simplify and increase awareness of our complaints policies, standards and targets
  • agency wide guidance and training to improve the quality of complaint handling with a view to making our processes more efficient
  • the introduction of time limits for the submission and escalation of complaints

Initial feedback on the new process has been positive and we are using performance data to provide insight and direction for ways in which we further improve the service we offer.

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