This Government takes recovery and enforcement of financial impositions very seriously and remains committed to finding new ways to ensure impositions are paid and to trace those who do not pay. This is why there has been a year on year increase in the total amount of financial penalties collected over the last three years. The amount of money collected reached an all time high of £290 million at the end of 2013/14 and collections continue to rise. In 2013/14 the total outstanding balance of financial impositions reduced by £26.7m (5%) in the year.
To build on improvements made in recent years in fine collection HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) is embarking on an ambitious programme of reform. When developing and implementing the Criminal Compliance and Enforcement Services Blueprint we identified a number of areas where fundamental change was necessary in order to increase fine collection and better serve the public by delivering value for tax payers’ money.
To meet these challenges HMCTS is looking to work with an external provider for future provision of the service. This will bring the necessary investment and technology HMCTS needs to achieve its aspirations for compliance and enforcement services in the future. It will enable the automation of many of the manual administrative processes and in turn decrease the cost of providing fine enforcement and increase the amount of fines that are paid. The innovation this will bring and the use of automated administrative processes will free up staff time to be more pro-active in pursuing offenders to ensure they comply with their court order.
The competition to identify an external provider commenced in July 2013; the contract is expected to be awarded in early 2015.
HMCTS has also started to pilot the use of data from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in fine collection in July 2014, albeit for a number of specifically targeted cases. Early indications are that data from HMRC has enabled HM Courts & Tribunals Service to increase the number of attachment of earnings orders it can make. At present, it is not possible to provide a meaningful estimate of the impact on collection rates; however HMCTS is exploring ways to assess the impact of receiving the data over coming months.