Debt is always going to be an emotive and sensitive issue as many different types of people and businesses fall into debt for different reasons. The biggest area of debt in the UK is money owed to Central Government, which is estimated to exceed £25 billion (of which £5 billion to £7 billion is over 90 days old), and originates from many sources including unpaid fees, taxes, fines and loans, benefits or tax credit overpayments, and unrecovered costs from court cases.
In 2010, the UK Government
announced its commitment to addressing this problem and improving debt
management by setting up a Fraud, Error and Debt taskforce. The unit set out
its vision and roadmap by publishing an interim report in February 2012. This
was followed by a National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee review in
2014, which confirmed that there was no integrated approach for managing debt
across Government, and that too much overdue debt was being allowed to “age”
leading to value erosion.
To remedy this, a public
tendering process was held and a joint venture was formed between Government
and TDX Group in 2015. The company, named Indesser, provides Government and the
wider UK public sector with a single point of access to a wide range of debt
management and collection services.
Government can now access
services as a single customer, presenting a significant change from 2012 when
the Government had over thirty separate contracts for managing debt. In
addition, Indesser is set up as a streamlined process, with the fair treatment
of individuals in debt at the heart of what it does. Ensuring that individuals are removed from
the stress of having multiple debt collection agencies and parts of Government,
approaching them in different ways.
Since going live in mid-2015,
Indesser is widely acknowledged to be exceeding expectations and has provided
the Exchequer with greater returns than forecast in the original business case.
Indesser aims to grow its UK Government services and footprint in the coming
months and to use its experience and expertise to help Government’s outside of
the UK to address similar challenges. A vision which is strongly supported by
the Cabinet Office and the Indesser customer departments.
Sunil Shahaney is Director of
Government and Public Sector at TDX Group