Q&A: Enfield Council’s Geoff Waterton explains his journey when collecting arrears using an innovative solution

Geoff Waterton, Head of Collection at Enfield Council, recently participated in an Agilisys webinar to share his experience of adopting an innovative income generation and debt collection solution. Following on from that, Geoff explains his journey when collecting arrears

– What was the main challenge faced at Enfield Council in terms of arrears?

Enfield had been forced to change the council tax and housing benefit IT system twice within a four-year period due to a business takeover of the system provider. This resulted in an increase in council tax arrears during the period of implementation.

– What made you select Agilisys as a partner for your arrears reduction programme?

Agilisys offered a proactive debt collection service using a range of automated collection tools. They were also able to bring a mixture of private and public sector experience to the table.

– Please explain more about the Agilisys solution

The agreement with Agilisys Revenue Collection sees historic council tax debts, many of which have previously been returned to the Council by debt enforcement companies as un-collectable, targeted.

Agilisys are paid by result and earn a proportion of income collected. If there is no collection, no fees are payable. Agilisys undertake all the recovery work but, unlike if the council sold the debt, under this scheme we still maintain control of the collection process and can stop further action such as prosecutions if necessary.

– What have Agilisys contributed in terms of your goal of reducing arrears?

The key achievements that our partnership has achieved are:

  • Targeted collection based on credit reference analysis
  • Additional collection of over £500k
  • Resolution of over £5m of arrears
  • Tracing and collection of absconder cases

– What do you think makes Agilisys unique in this space?

I would say it’s their experience of debt collection for both local authority and private sector clients, allied with access to credit reference data, outbound calling and other proactive debt collection tools.

– Is the Agilisys Revenue Collection Service easy to procure, and is there any funding assistance that councils could call upon?

Agilysis has established a G-Cloud framework agreement to assist with procurement, which does make procurement easier.

In London, the Greater London Authority is willing to part fund the costs of the service subject to a signed agreement between the authority and the GLA.

– We have heard about Trace and Verify, which you are using for your Gone Away and no contact/payment accounts? How does this work and how does it benefit Enfield Council?

In Enfield we place a code on an account when we are notified of a gone away customer. These cases are uploaded by batch upload to Agilisys on a quarterly basis for a trace and verify process. Successful cases are then updated and pursued accordingly.

To view the webinar in full, click here.

Geoff joined Enfield Borough Council almost 40 years ago and has a wealth of revenue and collection experience. As Head of Service at Enfield he is responsible for Council Tax, Business Rates, Benefit Overpayments, Housing Rent, Temporary Accommodation and Social Care collection.

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