Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Operational Advice during Covid-19

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Version 7 Published 7 July 2020

 

Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Operational Advice for COVID 19 Lockdown Easing (Phase 2)

Introduction

This guidance has been produced jointly by the British Parking Association, London Councils and the Local Government Association to help local authorities develop and implement local plans for lifting any temporary traffic and parking arrangements put in place since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown period. The authors of this advice will keep it under constant review in light of the rapidly changing situation and update and reissue as necessary.

Parking and traffic management is an important public service, which provides benefits for pedestrians, cyclists, motorists and the wider community. Those benefits include maintaining road safety and access to jobs, goods and services. This has perhaps never been more important than now as we have had to respond to unprecedented changing demands and priorities. Local authority action in this area has been widely recognised as making an important contribution to the fight against COVID-19, especially the flexibility provided to NHS staff, care and other key workers.

Transport is one of the most important factors in ensuring we continue to control the virus and save lives, whilst enabling the continued  lifting of the lockdown restrictions. A carefully managed reintroduction of previously relaxed traffic/parking management and enforcement has therefore been necessary to help manage a safe and controlled recovery. This is especially true for the return to work and school for many over the coming days and weeks. As people try to avoid public transport, demand for parking will increase and the reintroduction of charges and enforcement becomes increasingly necessary to ensure priority can be maintained for those who need it most. Road space needs to be maintained for additional walking and cycling too, as well as freight for those essential deliveries and services. It is of course important for the parking and traffic management sector to recover too and many authority staff and contractors are now returning to work also.

No two authorities, or even town centres are identical, so local action will be dependent on local circumstances and it is entirely for each authority to decide what is best for them. The following advice is intended to provide a framework for those local decisions and help achieve some consistency where possible.

On and Off- Street Enforcement Activities

Managing the supply and demand of parking facilities is a key operational responsibility for authorities and is a vital traffic management tool. The continued return to work for more sectors and the re-opening of retail and leisure activities is leading to an increase in demand for parking in an increasing number of locations as people seek alternatives to shared public transport, for their own personal health and safety.  

Whilst authorities should continue to primarily focus their enforcement activities on priority routes and incidences of dangerous, obstructive and anti-social parking, the increased demand means that it is likely that authorities will need to reintroduce enforcement at locations that have previously had some form of relaxation or suspension. It is recommended that authorities also prioritise   locations of heightened activity where a lack of controls will have a significant, detrimental impact on safety and traffic management.

In areas where enforcement had temporarily been suspended or where substantive changes are being made such as reintroduction of charges or removal of permits, authorities had previously been advised to consider the issuance of Warning Notices, outlining details of the contravention and advising that a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) will be issued in the future if regulations/controls are not observed. Authorities may wish to continue this practice where enforcement commences or substantive changes are made in more areas where controls had previously been suspended. Authorities may also consider the use of an alternative waterproof envelope for such Warning Notices to manage this message and help ensure that they are not mistaken for a PCN (see Appendix A or B).  Authorities may wish to use the Advisory Parking Notice templates created by the BPA as a basis for their own notices (see Appendix A examples 1 and 2)

Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) should be encouraged to provide help and advice about where people can and cannot park, ensuring that social distancing guidelines are applied and adhered to.

It is likely that, with the need to adhere to social distancing and threats of abuse, there may be increased incidents of CEOs not being able to successfully serve the PCN which may lead to an increase in postal Regulation 10 ‘prevented from serving’ notices. Authorities need to ensure that they have all of the required evidence on the parking activity in accordance with existing guidance before taking the decision to issue such notices.  See page 19 of Statutory Guidance

The phased increase in commercial activity means it will become increasingly important for the freight sector to be able to deliver goods and services to shops and businesses. Authorities need to ensure that loading and unloading can take place safely and legally and that the highway is not obstructed by vehicles parked in contravention that could have a negative impact on this activity.

Those local authorities that undertake vehicle removals should continue to only do so if a vehicle is parked dangerously or obstructing traffic flow. Where possible, any vehicle that needs to be removed should be relocated to a safe, lawful position close by rather than removed to the vehicle pound. Removing to a pound should remain a last resort.

Any changes in procedures and parking restrictions should be clearly publicised on authority websites with a facility to allow the public to make enquiries.

PCN Case Progression

Where this had previously been suspended, authorities will need to recommence their activities in managing all aspects of road traffic enforcement including the processing of challenges, representations and payments. It is important that outstanding cases do not expire or pass beyond any statutory deadlines. Authorities who had put PCN processing on hold are encouraged, where feasible, to get cases moving again using the required level of sensitivity to the ongoing COVID-19 situation. This should include progression of PCNs to Notice to Owner (NtOs)/Charge Certificate stages where appropriate. 

Careful consideration should be given to the content of all incoming and outgoing correspondence, making them highly relevant and responsive to the COVID-19 situation. A firm but fair regime of dealing with challenges and formal representations is advised.  There is likely to be an increase in the number of challenges based upon mitigating circumstances relating to COVID19 and authorities should consider showing some discretion where this can be verified as a contributing factor to the issuing of the PCN

For cases at Charge Certificate stage, authorities who had cases on hold may, where appropriate,  wish to initially re-engage by way of a non statutory letter in an attempt to resolve them.   A sample letter attached based upon one used by Derby City Council, at Appendix C and which has proved very successful, could be used as the basis for initial re-engagement with those who have outstanding PCNs and where previous attempts to engage or resolve the case prior to warrant issue had not been made

It is clear that for some authorities a return to previous levels of  processing may take some time... Authorities are advised to  prioritise cases that are approaching statutory deadlines and be aware that statutory service requirements and timescales still apply.

The Department for Transport (DfT) have confirmed that electronic processing of DVLA requests using the KADOE system will be processed as usual. They have indicated that any requests that require manual processing may be subject to delay and authorities should be aware of this.

Payments

Authorities should, wherever possible, continue to take a common sense and flexible approach towards taking payments and recognise that many people may be struggling financially. 

Recommendations include extending the discount payment periods or providing an offer to put cases on hold to a specific date when the person indicates that they will be able to pay.  Where a motorist has multiple cases to pay, authorities may wish to consider a payment plan or staggering the payments if this will improve the likelihood of resolution. It is recognised the ability to offer such payment options will be based upon what is feasible within each authority’s own systems.

Debt registration and enforcement

Authorities are encouraged to start re-engaging with the debt registration process if they had previously ceased this activity.

The Traffic Enforcement Centre recently provided the following update:

1. Statutory Declarations

You will be aware that due to the Covid crisis TEC has been accepting statutory declarations unsigned due to the significant impact of the widespread court closures caused by the pandemic. As the lockdown measures ease across the country this temporary measure must now come to an end.

What is TEC doing?

From Tuesday 07 July TEC will no longer accept unsigned stat decs. Respondents will be told to contact their local court in the normal way.

What do we need to do?

Nothing different. Just note the date that this change is being made on to reduce queries.

2. Re-issue Warrants Process Automation

You will be aware that the power to use the Taking Control of Goods procedure normally expires 12 months after the notice of enforcement is issued (for warrants of control this is defined as the date the warrant is issued).  Due to Covid, this procedure has been impacted by the suspension of in-person visits.

Following recent legislation, there has been an amendment to the life of a warrant under the Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agent Regulations (Amendment) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020. The effect of the regulation amendment is to extend automatically for a further 12 months any time limit for taking control of goods that reaches the end of its life during the COVID-19 period. The emergency period itself has been defined as 26 March 2020 to 23 August 2020.

What is TEC doing?

We have now put a procedure in place so that those warrants that expire between 26th February and the end of the emergency period (which we now know to be 23rd August 2020) will be extended by 12 months.  This is supported by Statutory instruments 451 and 614.

Statutory Instrument 451

Statutory Instrument 614

What do we need to do?

Nothing different. You will still send us your warrant reissue requests as normal. In the background, we have re-programmed our automated systems accordingly.

For cases already with Enforcement Agents, sympathetic and proportionate ‘compliance stage’ activities can take place. This should be limited to appropriate letters, texts and calls and as always give full consideration to any potential vulnerable circumstances but particularly those affected in due to COVID-19.  The Taking Control of Goods and Certification of Enforcement Agents (Amendment) (No. 2) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 were made on 19 June 2020 and enable visits to recommence from 24 August 2020.

The Civil Enforcement Association (CIVEA) was proactive in providing best practice guidance to its members prior to the government’s COVID-19 lockdown measures being introduced.  CIVEA have published a post-lockdown support plan which all CIVEA members have committed to implement.  The content of this plan can be found at Appendix E.

Charging strategies

On and off-street charging strategies will play an important part in the recovery process in regulating vehicle movement and therefore re-commencing of charging, where it has been suspended may become increasingly necessary as a demand management tool.   Local decisions about charging strategies should be made with an emphasis on promoting active travel, supporting social distancing, giving priority to critical care workers as appropriate and managing air quality.

Authorities may wish to take a more flexible approach to tariffs where possible within the bounds of statutory processes. This could include recognising a potential increase in demand for all day worker parking by offering weekly or monthly rates to support the return to work for those who cannot cycle or walk as an alternative to public transport.  Authorities also need to  consider the feasibility of incentivising parking further out from retail and urban centres by making it cheaper and combining it with active travel for the last part of the journey in  combination with relatively higher pricing for short stay parking in central locations.  Central locations may also need to be prioritised to some extent to provide for disabled parking where kerb side space has been reduced to enable social distancing measures. Where charges are being reinstated, please see advice below regarding payment methods.

Social distancing and reducing virus transmission risks

Government guidance on social distancing relevant to transport, parking and the public realm has recently been published and authorities should refer to the relevant parts of this:

Department for Transport guidance

Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government guidance

It is highly likely that authorities will be required to suspend some on street parking to enable them to widen pedestrian areas to support social distancing and/or to put in cycle lanes to support active travel. 

Authorities should continue to offer all of their usual forms of payment but should carefully consider risks associated with machines and take the necessary control measures to reduce them.  Cashless and contactless payments can be encouraged but it is important to try not to fuel fear of touching things or disadvantage customers for whom cashless and card payments are not possible.

The BPA has produced a social distancing and virus transmission risk reduction tool kit for car parks which is available to members via the resource library here  The tool kit includes a risk assessment template and ready to use template signs.  In addition, they have produced a frontline officer risk assessment framework, see Appendix D. Any queries about either of these resources can be sent to [email protected]

Repurposing the Kerb

Many authorities are taking steps to introduce temporary or experimental traffic orders where possible to re-purpose the kerbside and enable wider pedestrian spaces and cycle lanes. This can be an effective measure in encouraging increased levels of walking and cycling as many people avoid public transport, whilst observing social distancing guidelines. When implementing new schemes, planners need to be aware of the demand for parking services in an area and the impact that a significant reduction in the supply could have on the management of traffic on their highway. Whilst car use is not necessarily encouraged, private transport will be a more desired travel mode in the short term.  The reduction in available space for blue badge holders needs to be considered and viable alternatives provided.

It must also be stated that any highway repurposing should be carefully considered to avoid any negative impact on residents and the local business community and appropriate consultation is advised prior to the commencement of any temporary orders.  The ability of freight operators to deliver goods and services should be considered as well as facilitating kerbside loading and unloading in a safe and practical way.  The reduction in available space for blue badge holders needs to be considered and viable alternatives provided.

COVID 19 Parking Concessions

Since the introduction of the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, most authorities throughout England have introduced temporary provisions to assist key workers to be able to park for free so that they could continue to provide essential services.

Government parking concessions for the NHS, health and social care workers and NHS COVID-19 volunteers still apply (see next section for further details). PCNs should not be issued to those vehicles displaying such passes/permits unless parked in an obstructive and/or dangerous manner.

Where local exemptions/permits have been issued to wider groups of workers, it is becoming increasingly  necessary to consider reviewing and starting to gradually withdraw these concessions, as traffic and parking demand increases, and capacity becomes more  strained.  Withdrawal of permits should be undertaken in a phased manner, be well communicated to users and make use of warning notices for a period of time after the permits have been withdrawn where possible.

Further requests for parking concessions are starting to increase as more people return to work and seek to avoid public transport.  It is likely that capacity for free parking will be limited and priority may need to be maintained for critical care and emergency workers only.  Critical care worker concessions are currently under review by MHCLG. 

Where appropriate other workers should be sign-posted to locations with the greatest amount of spare parking capacity, including privately operated car parks. The decision on whether this parking should be paid for is for individual authorities (see charging strategies advice above).  Any groups of workers retaining priority/free parking should continue to be encouraged to park off-street where possible, with on-street as a last resort.

Government Parking Pass and Other Evidence of Entitlement to Parking Concessions

The government’s free parking concessions and supporting parking pass scheme for NHS and health and social care staff and NHS COVID-19 volunteers (critical care workers) will continue to operate until government advises of its withdrawal. This scheme is currently under review.

Councils will need to make their frontline teams aware of what the pass looks like and the guidance so they are aware of where holders have been told they can use it.  If you need a copy of the pass please contact [email protected]

If a special COVID-19 permit system for critical care workers remains in place for your council or other evidence of entitlement continues to be  accepted following previous advice, this should be maintained  and the pass does not need to replace it.  The guidance for users clarifies this point.

Blue Badge enforcement

Local authorities will be aware that, due to COVID-19 related pressures on the processing of Blue Badge applications and reapplications, the UK and devolved governments and local government associations are advising that local authority parking teams should not issue PCNs  to citizens using Blue Badges with an expiry date of 1 January 2020 onwards. This relaxation of enforcement against expired Blue Badges should continue until 30 September 2020.

To ensure there are no problems for applicants when normal enforcement resumes, local authorities are encouraged to plan now to ensure that any backlogs of badge reapplications are processed by the 30 September and that residents are made aware that expired badges should not be used thereafter .

Authorities can continue enforcement for misuse or where blue badge concessions are not valid, as normal.

Appendix A – Warning Notice Example

Advisory Parking Notice

You can help your community by parking considerately

As the COVID-19 lock down is gradually eased, it is becoming necessary for us to resume greater levels of parking management to respond to the increase in car travel.  For a short period we are issuing advisory notices to draw people’s attention to where parking rules have been broken & to highlight that people can help their community by parking considerately.

Our officer believes that your vehicle is parked in breach of the Traffic Management Act 2004 and local Traffic Regulation Orders.  These regulations are there primarily to keep your community safe and free from hazards and obstruction caused by parked vehicles and to protect some spaces for specific road users.  At this time, ensuring routes are kept clear, spaces needed for critical workers & residents are protected and that people are not negatively affected by inconsiderate parking is especially important.

Please ensure you move your vehicle immediately so that you are parking in a permitted place and with consideration to others. 

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action at this time, but we continue to have a responsibility to local communities in maintaining control of parking.  If your vehicle is seen repeatedly parking in this way you will be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice.

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services.


If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient.

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

Appendix B – Warning Notice Example 2 – Resumption of Charges

Advisory Parking Notice

Parking charges are being/have been reinstated in this location

 

As the COVID-19 lock down is gradually eased, the council is resuming parking charges to respond to the increase in car travel and to manage the demand for parking.  Normal parking charges will apply at this location from X (date)/Normal parking charges have now resumed at this location and you must pay for parking here from that date/now on. (/ DELETE AS APPROPRIATE)

For a short period we are issuing advisory notices to draw people’s attention to the fact charges are resuming/have been reinstated. (/ DELETE AS APPROPRIATE)

Please ensure you pay the appropriate fee for parking in this location on future visits.

We do not wish to need to take enforcement action at this time, but we have a responsibility to ensure parking is managed and that spaces are available for those who need them.  Parking charges are important for demand management and to ensure that the council can continue to provide this valuable service.  If your vehicle is found to be parked here again without having paid, you may be issued with a Penalty Charge Notice. 

Thank you for your assistance and cooperation.

(name of council) Parking Services.


If you need help with finding somewhere to park please: (use one or both of the following & adapt if necessary):

contact us at (e-mail/phone number) and we will do our best to direct you to somewhere safe and convenient

visit our website parking pages where you will find information about available places to park and special permit schemes in operation  www.xxxx.co.uk

Appendix C – Example Re-Engagement Letter Post Charge Certificate Based Upon One Used By Derby City Council

PENALTY CHARGE NOTICE NUMBER:                               «Notice_Number»

DATE OF ISSUE:                                                                              «Notice_Contravention_Date»

VEHICLE REGISTRATION NUMBER:                                   «Notice_VRM»

LOCATION OF CONTRAVENTION:                                        «Notice_Issue_Location»

 

Firstly, we hope you are keeping well and staying safe during this exceptionally challenging time.

As a result of the COVID-19 situation, the Council have taken the decision to write to customers who have outstanding Penalty Charge Notices with an offer to help them during this period of uncertainty.  Our records show that you currently have the above outstanding Penalty Charge Notice (PCN).  In light of this difficult situation, we are offering the following options to you with regards to making payment;

Option 1) Pay the reduced amount

Ordinarily the reduced amount can only be paid within 14 days of receiving the PCN. Given the exceptional circumstances we are faced with, the Council is willing to reduce all PCNs which are not with the Enforcement Agents back to the reduced amount to help.

Option 2) Promise to pay

If you cannot afford to pay what you owe at this moment in time but you know you will be able to within the next 28 days, you can request to pay on a certain date.  Please provide the date by which you will be able to make your payment and we will contact you on that date to take payment.

Option 3) Putting your case on hold

If you cannot afford to pay at all during this current period, please let us know so we can discuss this further with you.

Option 4) If your case is already with the enforcement agents

Please e-mail us with your position and proposal about settling the debt and the Council will consider reducing the amount owed to reduce the financial burden on you.  If you already have an arrangement with the enforcement agents, you should keep that arrangement up to date to prevent the possibility of further action.  If you are unable to keep up with your arrangement with the enforcement agents, please contact them directly.

If you want to take advantage of any of these options please send an email  to [email protected] with your vehicle details and your PCN reference number and state which option you would like to take. You will then receive a response from us when we have processed your request.

Yours sincerely

Parking Services Team

Appendix D: Front Line Operations – Risk Assessment Framework

Front Line Operations – Risk Assessment Framework

 

This framework has been produced to help BPA members address the risks which may be involved relating to social distancing and reducing the risk of virus transmission for front line operations.

It has not been laid out in the form of a risk register as it is recognised that members have their own company template for risk registers.

The framework provides information and considerations members can use whilst completing their  own risk assessments.

How to use the framework:

  1. Use the list in the hazards column to help you identify those which apply to your organisation and processes
  2. Estimate the likelihood of risk arising from the hazards you have identified
  3. Estimate the potential exposure
  4. Use the list in the control measures column to help you determine the measures you will implement and assess the level to which they will reduce the risks.
  5. Use the contents of the implications column to help you to implement control measures

 

Hazard

Control Measures

Implications

Infected workers spreading Covid- 19

 

Temperature checks at start of shifts

 

Implement and enforce policy for self isolation of staff

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

Consider infra red thermometer for checks upon arrival at base.

 

Individual thermometers for remote workers and requirement to check temperature before each shift.

 

Officers working from base may be subject to infection transmission whilst within the office environment.

Implement where appropriate, Government guidelines for Office working.

www.gov.uk/workingsafely

 

Create staggered start and finish times where possible.

 

Stagger all breaks

 

 

Insist on regular hand washing/sanitising and cleaning of surfaces and equipment.  Provide necessary cleaning and washing facilities and ensure this message is reinforced through posters and notices in all work environments.

 

Ensure all staff are briefed regarding Government guidelines.

 

Provision of hand washing facilities and sanitiser

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

Cross infection from shared equipment used by staff

Provide personal issue equipment.

 

If not personal issue, ensure equipment is cleaned with anti-bacterial agent before and after use.

 

Requirement for additional equipment

 

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

Travel in vehicles whilst at work and travel to work

Implement where appropriate, Government guidelines for  Vehicles.

www.gov.uk/workingsafely

 

Anti-bacterial wipes or cleaning materials to be provided in vehicles. Staff are required to wipe clean the surfaces in the vehicles at the start and end of their driving duties.

 

Sole occupancy of vehicles recommended. 

 

With multiple occupancy, max 2 people, if rear seating available,  seat one in the rear diagonally opposite the driver to maximise distancing, all occupants must wear masks throughout the journey.   Also consider the following:

 

Occupants face forward if both in the front seats

Windows kept open

Try to rota so the same pairs are sharing vehicles on each shift

Dashboard signage to remind of rules

 

Consider supplying masks for use on public transport for travel to and from work

 

Ensure all staff are briefed regarding Government guidelines.

 

Provision of cleaning materials.

 

Provision of masks

Staff exposed to possible infection whilst dealing with members of the public

Adhere to government guidelines on social distancing and hygiene.

 

Provision of PPE to staff to include face covering, hand sanitiser, gloves and eye protection.

 

Review Government guidance on use of PPE https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

 

Provide masks for any front line staff working within or close to hospital sites

Consider issuing staff with “distance reminder badges”.

 

Training of staff in the  use of equipment and in particular the proper fitting of face coverings.

 

Consideration to be given as to type of face covering to be issued. This could be a face mask and face goggles or a full visor.

 

Government guidance at the moment states that face masks are more for the protection of others rather than the wearer.

 

Threat to staff from confrontational situations including abuse and assault(spitting  or coughing at close range with coronavirus threats)

Ensure staff are trained on how to be aware of and how to diffuse escalating situations.

 

Provision of PPE to staff to include face covering, hand sanitiser, gloves and eye protection.

 

Review Government guidance on use of PPE https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-personal-protective-equipment-ppe

 

Use of radio or other communication device to call for assistance if required.

 

Try to ensure police support / good police relations / coms

 

If situation arises where PCN cannot be issued safely, back off and do not issue or, as an alternative and where permissible,  issue  Regulation 10 PCN where issue process had started.

 

Consider the supply of Bodycams to staff to act as a deterrent and also to provide evidence of any criminal act.

 

Consider the use of and explicit display of Spit Kits to staff to act as a deterrent and also to provide evidence of any criminal act.

 

Consideration to be given as to type of face covering to be issued. This could be a face mask and face goggles or a full visor.

 

Government guidance at the moment states that face masks are more for the protection of others rather than the wearer and offer little protection from close range spit or cough attacks.

 

It is recommended that for this particular risk, full visors or at least eye goggles and a mask be worn.

 

Delivery of conflict management training and training of staff in the use of equipment and in particular the proper fitting of face coverings.

 

Consider issuing staff with “distance reminder badges”.

 

Training of staff in the use of bodycams.

 

Training of staff in the use of Spit Kits.

 

Exposure to cross infection when coming into contact with pay machines.

 

Clean equipment with anti-bacterial materials before and after contact.

Issue staff with anti-bacterial cleaning materials and instructions on its use.

 

Provide gloves to be worn during cleaning and advise on safe disposal after use.

 

 

Exposure to cross infection when using public toilet facilities

Clean touch parts within the facility with anti-bacterial materials before and after use.

Issue staff with anti-bacterial wipes/cleaning materials and instructions on its use.

 

Provide hand sanitiser and recommend using after leaving the toilet facilities

 

List of suggested places to try for purchase of PPE which have been recommended by other BPA members:

Penham Excel - www.ppe-products.co.uk

AlsoPrint - https://www.alsoprint.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/ALSOprint-Limited-Employee-Welfare-Catalogue-May-2020.pdf

Dynateck (also supply thermometers) – [email protected]

Appendix E – CIVEA Post Lockdown Support Plan

COVID19 Pre Visit Letter and Vulnerability Identification Phase

All enforcement visits were suspended by 23 March 2020 at the latest. All other activity, such as issuing of Notices of Enforcement, reminder letters and outbound calls was reduced. CIVEA members fully accept that to simply restart enforcement visits once the Government eases restrictions would not be acceptable.

Therefore, prior to recommencing any visits to customers, all CIVEA members will implement a Pre-visit Letter and Vulnerability Identification Phase. This will involve issuing a light touch reconnection letter, which uses a template based on wording provided by CIVEA, plus follow up communication e.g. by text, email, phone where possible. Firms will use the standard form letter unless their council clients require an alteration. The letter seeks to engage consistently with customers to understand how they have been affected by the COVID-19 crisis and respond as appropriate. Each case will be offered support as appropriate, including signposting to the Money Advice Service and debt advice charities.

Enforcement visit suspension

When enforcement can resume following the lifting of emergency regulations, individuals will be given 30 days’ notice of a visit by an enforcement agent, unless the local authority has specific requirements. This is to provide sufficient opportunity for engagement with customers prior to the attendance of an Enforcement Agent, which could prevent additional fees being added to the outstanding debt

Training

All enforcement agents will be required to undertake additional, mandatory CIVEA-approved training prior to any recommencement of visits.

The newly-designed training programme will include: the effective use of protective equipment and social distancing requirements, how to protect themselves and those that they encounter in the community. This will be supplemented by refresher training on supporting the vulnerable and recognising mental health issues.

Pre-visit Assessment

Where a telephone number has been sourced and if appropriate to do so, CIVEA members will make outbound calls in advance of enforcement visits to identify any vulnerabilities or changes in circumstances.

Post-lockdown visits

Enforcement visits will restart after the government lockdown restrictions that cover such activity are lifted.

• Agents will receive refresher training on how to identify any vulnerabilities or changes in circumstances.

• Visits will be contactless in line with CIVEA safe working practices guidance

• Enforcement agents will not enter premises to take control of goods

• Where appropriate vulnerable people or those who have been severely impacted financially by the pandemic, e.g. loss of job, Statutory Sick Pay, will be referred to debt advice agencies for additional support.

• In these circumstances, the case will be placed on hold to be monitored, with contact by welfare staff, as appropriate, prior to proceeding. The fees incurred will remain in place.

• Vulnerable people will be referred to their creditor for additional support, where appropriate.

Data collection and recording

All CIVEA members will collect and record details of customer vulnerabilities, in line with data protection requirements e.g. customer consent, and develop support plans that reflect CIVEA’s guidance on assessing the impact of COVID-19 on households.

Provision of protective equipment

The majority of enforcement payments are made by telephone before an enforcement agent is required to visit or after a letter has been left. When visits are necessary, CIVEA will work with members to source sufficient workwear and hygiene supplies to protect and reassure staff and members of the public. Enforcement agents will practice social distancing, comply with enhanced hygiene techniques (including disinfecting their kit) and be issued with hand sanitizer.