Professional debt collectors could teach a thing or two in terms of the credit control London banks and central government offices carry out, as research reveals they score higher than both groups on the Citizens Advice Bureau’s approval ratings.
Citizens Advice advisers reported back on which types of debt recovery lead to the most enquiries from their customers, with figures compiled to create an approval rating league table.
Water companies scored the best of all, with a 78% approval rating, followed by local authorities recovering council tax arrears, and social landlords.
Behind these groups came private debt collectors with a 63% approval rating, equal to that scored by local authorities when recovering overpaid benefits.
That puts debt collectors slightly ahead of the financial services industry, with a 62% approval rating for the credit control London banks carry out, along with those based elsewhere in the country.
Energy companies rank next on the list, while the DWP scored an approval rating of just 47% when recovering overpaid benefits – much lower than when local authorities pursue debtors for the same reason.
Magistrates court fines rank next with just 40% approval rating, perhaps unsurprisingly, while the list is completed with mobile phone providers (37%) and HMRC recovering tax credit overpayments, bottom of the approval rating league table at just 34%.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “It’s unacceptable that government agencies are behind the standards set for private companies when recovering debt.
“National government, private firms, utility providers and debt advice specialists need to get together and urgently agree a fair and consistent way forward.”
The report found that only 12% of Citizens Advice advisers think HMRC tax credits collections are recovered using realistically affordable payment schedules – compared with 51% for banks and private debt collectors.
Clearly an affordable repayment schedule has the best opportunity to recover funds in full – one more lesson in credit control London central government offices could stand to learn from the debt recovery sector.