Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts And Other Busyness

Social Security To Hire Private Debt Collectors

Squall 11, Autumn 1995, pg. 11.

Private debt collectors are to be introduced by the Department of Social Security to collect money owed to them, according to a Benefits Agency document leaked in September.

The pilot study for the scheme begins next spring and will involve two private debt collecting companies who will each be paid a tenner for every debt they collect. The debts referred to are overpayments of benefit. The pilot study will involve 7,500 cases, of which 4,400 will be overpaid income support, 900 will be overpaid child benefit and 2,200 cases social fund loan recovery.

Sally Witcher of Child Poverty Action Group said: “It cannot be right that people who are overpaid through the department’s inefficiency then find debt collectors turning up on their doorsteps.”

The leaked document, marked “restricted”, refers to the “political sensitivity” of the new measures, saying a “gauge of the public perception of private sector involvement” had to be made. Presumably so those perceptions can be remoulded with a bit of spin-doctoring, paving the way for the measures to be introduced nationwide.