Crown Commercial Service
Incorporating social value into debt recovery
We want to support the public sector by providing solutions for debt recovery which is why we have added mandatory requirements incorporating social value into our Debt Resolution Services framework.
Our Debt Resolution Services (DRS) framework provides the public sector with the best solutions for debt recovery and associated services including data, fraud and error, litigation and spend analysis recovery.
When designing the framework we ensured that social value was a key aspect. Matt Hooper, Senior Category Lead at Crown Commercial Service (CCS), explains how the framework integrates social value.
Why we integrated social value in the DRS framework
The framework’s purpose is to recover money that is legitimately owed and provide taxpayers with value for money. We understand that problem debt can often be linked to mental health, and so we take our responsibility to ensure debts are recovered fairly and ethically seriously. According to The Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, 50% of adults in problem debt have a mental health problem and 1 in 5 people with mental health issues are in problem debt.
The number of individuals who are vulnerable, or living in hardship, is growing, and is likely to worsen due to the cost of living crisis. This means it is important that people know where they can get support if they need it.
We want to change the way that debt recovery is viewed and show that our suppliers can recover debts whilst also , supporting those in debt and the wider communities.
How did stakeholders influence our decision to include social value within our DRS framework?
We spoke with over 100 organisations across the public and private sectors and to policymakers to understand what was possible and what the best solutions offer.
Working with the debt advice sector gave us insight into the daily issues they see. This deepened our understanding of the issues poor practice in debt recovery can cause.
This led to further discussions on what ‘good’ looks like, and what meaningful solutions we could implement to ensure debts are recovered fairly and ethically.
This means that by using the DRS framework you can be assured that those in debt will be treated fairly, and on an individual basis. You will also have visibility of the wider good practices the supply chain is supporting.
For example, suppliers are required to use the GOV.UK Debt Management Vulnerability Toolkit and Money and Pensions Service Money Advisor Network to ensure that those in need of professional support are identified early and effectively supported through free debt advice.
How do we provide social value?
We have added requirements to the framework contract that our suppliers must adhere to. These support both the supplier and those in debt, and include:
- ensuring our supply chain supports social mobility
- looking after the mental health of their own workforce
- adhering to market-leading best practice in debt recovery
We also want to know what experiences those in debt have. Therefore, we require debt collecting organisations to get feedback from consumers. This allows us to identify good practices and to react to any decline in consumer outcomes.
To ensure framework suppliers recover debts in an ethical way they are required to provide a social value plan when they submit their framework bid. Suppliers also have to contribute to society more broadly. For example, through supporting mental wellbeing and financial education schemes.
While the exact nature of this work will vary from supplier to supplier we have stated that suppliers must:
- increase their current social value by doing more than they were doing before they joined the framework
- do more as they win more business through the framework
- provide an annual social value report showing the impact of their work -including social value KPIs and metrics
Each year, and as more organisations use the framework, social value through the DRS framework will increase.
In practice this means 3 things:
- more support for vulnerable individuals
- more training for public sector organisations
- more insight into financial hardship
This allows us to work with the public and debt advice sectors to further improve consumer outcomes, whilst maintaining peak collections performance for the taxpayer.
Customers using the framework can also set their own social value requirements, either magnifying and increasing those at framework level or setting local or departmental aims.
Ultimately, as the framework grows so will the social value contribution, allowing us to measure the impact we make.
What do the experts say?
The Money and Pension Service said:
It is vitally important that the public sector debt recovery process achieves fair and sustainable outcomes for those struggling with problem debts. We have been delighted to work with CCS, from the outset, to help embed social value within their DRS framework.
Stepchange Debt Charity stated:
Good practice in public sector debt management is enormously important, both because of the number of people who may need help and the important role of the government in setting standards. We know that problem debt can cause terrible harm that creates large social costs. The CCS social value approach is absolutely vital to embedding investment in good practice and support for people facing financial difficulty.
You have the power to boost social value
If you would like any further information about our debt recovery services, please get in touch:
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