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17 January 2024
2024 is already in full swing, and nothing we see leads us to believe that things are going to improve this year. Yet at the same time, neither do we see anything that might cause an acceleration of the status quo.
Read on as we look at our expectations of the coming year for our industry.
A change of government
We almost certainly look set to face a general election this year. If one isn’t called, then Parliament will automatically dissolve in December. If that happens, we’d be looking at around 10 weeks to issue the writs, get nominations in place and run the campaign, which would mean at the latest a March 2025 polling day. It’s more likely that all parties will be locked and loaded, with the PM on the hunt for the most opportune moment to call it. Whatever happens, there’s little doubt that household finances, the tax burden, the housing market and benefits will be under the manifesto microscope. It would make sense if the Spring Budget came before the election, with some measures delivered immediately and a few more held back until the new parliament, to encourage ‘brand loyalty’. Updates to Council tax
We anticipate that the government will publish its response to the Council Tax Collection Inquiry in Q1 or Q2. This is unlikely to result in immediate changes, but could set in motion the wheels of change, of which one could be effects on the regulation of enforcement. The Committee said there is considerable merit in putting the Enforcement Conduct Board (ECB) onto a statutory footing and recommended that the MoJ do this by the two-year deadline of November 2024.
Changes to Taking Control of Goods regulations
The Ministry of Justice consulted on several proposals to encourage people to settle their debts at the earliest opportunity while keeping fees as low as possible. These proposals range from extending the notice period before a visit can take place, to being more specific about what needs to happen at the compliance stage and mandating a new Information Sheet. At the core of this is the interplay between this consultation, the forthcoming ECB Code of Practice and the outcome of the Council Tax inquiry, all of which have the potential to impact on enforcement, hopefully in a joined-up way.
Leveraging the power of data science and insights
Firms will need to deliver (or partner with others who can deliver) industry-leading data science and analytics-led solutions.
In an evolving market, this competitive edge can help to increase cash collections and achieve fair customer outcomes by identifying the next best action for every account at every step of the journey.
Debt resolution has steadily been attracting more interest from the media, often inaccurate and usually sensationalist, but with real world impact on the firms involved. While social value initiatives are great for local communities, they won’t help if they are a mere layer of veneer overlaid onto an otherwise cynical collections strategy. With a rising tide of new debt (including many people who are in debt for the first time), it will be more important than even to partner with companies who not only say they are ethical, but can demonstrate that ethical debt resolution is at the core of their entire business, from the boots on the ground to the boardroom.
We think that the rising tide of new debt will continue into 2024, driven by similar economics to 2023, but against a backdrop of greater political uncertainty. Firms will need to adapt to this, while keeping one eye on the regulatory and legislative changes by making better use of data and technology, and by partnering with firms that treat the entire supply chain with respect, from customer to client.
If you want to know more about this, please feel free to get in touch.
Steve CoppardGroup Director of Debt Policy & StrategyJust & Arum
About the author
Steve has been in the debt industry since 2001. He spent most of his career working in government, where he started on the phones collecting VAT debt and ended up being responsible for prompting improvements to the management of over £40bn of public sector debt. He joined Just and Arum in May 2022 where he continues to shape the biggest conversations in the debt market, having been recognised as an Influencer on the Credit 500 list for a number of years. Credit Management Magazine recently called him one of the industry’s genuine thought leaders.