Debt recovery specialist JBW Group has announced that its Phoenix, JBW and Collect Services businesses have merged together to form a single company, CDER Group.
CDER Group will operate as a national collections and resolutions company with over 1,050 employees and agents, collecting over £250m annually. It will operate from regional centres of excellence in London, Bolton and Darlington.
The combined companies will collect central government, traffic and road user charging debt. Meanwhile, CDER Group subsidiaries Court Enforcement Services, Rundles and Advantis enable the group to offer clients access to a range of services including leading High Court enforcement and debt collection agency capabilities.
CDER Group is part of Outsourcing Inc, a Japanese multinational company headquartered in Tokyo.
Nick Tubbs, chief executive of the new company, said: “Whilst this significant change marks the end of the JBW, Phoenix and Collect Services brand names, the new company brings together their significant knowledge, skills, experience and IT capabilities. Together we believe we are even better positioned to meet our clients’ needs.”
Tubbs said the company is launching an approach called ‘Fairness in Operation’. “At this critical time in the UK recovery, it has never been more important for us to ensure we raise the standard of good conduct and practice in everything we do,” he said.
Paul Caddy, former managing of Phoenix is now CDER Group’s director of central government services. “‘Fairness in Operation’ reflects key principles that will drive continued improvements across the enforcement sector. As someone who worked closely with the Ministry of Justice to shape the TCOG (Taking Control Of Goods) reforms prior to their implementation in 2014, I am pleased to reflect on their successes.”
The reforms have promoted sector-wide investment in body-worn video evidence, contact centre technology, training in professional standards and vulnerability identification and support. Meanwhile, Caddy said initiatives such as the CIVEA Code of Compliance Audit demonstrates a wider commitment to establishing effective self-regulation to evidence professional standards across the sector.
Caddy said: “One of the principle factors behind Phoenix Commercial joining with JBW in 2018 was the commitment to embed fairness across the whole business and to commit the investment to develop a ‘Service Quality Dashboard’, to evidence, with oversight from an independent advisory board, that fairness in operations is delivered in practice.”
CDER Group aims to settle 50% of cases at the compliance stage and seeks to identify 40% of customers as potentially vulnerable, who receive tailored interventions.
John Mason, director of road traffic and road user charging services, stated: “We recognise that any customer referred to us for collection and enforcement activity may be vulnerable or potentially vulnerable. Vulnerability does not remove their debt liability, but there are a number of ways in which we can support vulnerable customers, through our specialist welfare team or through referral to a regulated debt advice agency or charity, or in cases of particularly vulnerable customers, by returning the case to the client.”
Carole Kenney, CDER’s director of customer car and welfare, said: “Our ‘Fairness Charter’ makes a number of commitments to vulnerable and potentially vulnerable customers through accountability, respect and our provision of balanced and individual resolutions. Ultimately, this is ensured through governance from our independent advisory group.”
Sir Martin Narey, former chief executive of Barnardo’s and former director general of the Prison Service, chairs an independent advisory group that scrutinises CDER Group’s policies and operations. Sir Martin said: “Since I was first introduced to the world of debt collection, I have discovered a wider industry which is vital – there is a necessary civic responsibility to pay things like Council Tax and traffic penalties – but where treatment of the frequently vulnerable debtor has sometimes been unacceptably harsh. What I’ve witnessed in JBW and its other group companies over the last two years has been a committed and conscientious effort to treat debtors with respect, to identify and support the vulnerable, and where the concept of fairness has been put at the heart of the company. I’m in no doubt of the new organisation’s determination to collect debts effectively but sympathetically.”
The resumption of debt collection visits in August is an important step, believes Andy Cummins, CDER’s director of local government revenues. “The recovery of public debt, and in particular Council Tax, is essential to funding local services,” said Cummins. “We are living in unprecedented times when public funds will be more critical than ever before, yet a higher number of taxpayers will face financial difficulty.
“The government’s review into public debt collection is likely to advocate a move to more typical debt collection recovery practices such as letters, outbound calls and messages. Whilst enforcement should always follow the completion of a comprehensive internal collection process, it is vital that the sanction and remedy of enforcement is available to deter potential defaulters and support local authorities to maximise essential income.
“There is yet to be published any verified comparative data between enforcement agencies collection rates and those of a debt collection agency recovering post-liability order cases. From the experience of our own debt collection agency, PS&P, we have seen that the contrast in collection rates for delinquent debt, using debt collection and enforcement methods, is considerable and therefore an effective enforcement service is a necessary remedy for public debt collection. That is not to say that it cannot be fair to the customer and our Fairness Framework will set a new high standard for fair collections and enforcement.”
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