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StepChange response to Enforcement Conduct Board

Draft Business Plan 2024/25

April 2024

Read the report

The Enforcement Conduct Board (ECB) is a body which was set up in 2022 to provide oversight of the enforcement industry in England and Wales, including bailiffs and firms.

Together with our frontline debt advice partners and other advocates, StepChange had called for and then welcomed the establishment of the ECB as a step in the right direction – although we continue to call for full statutory regulation of the enforcement industry.

StepChange responded to the ECB’s Draft Business Plan 2024/25, broadly welcoming the commitments it laid out. These included:

  • A new, clear and comprehensive set of standards for enforcement work.
  • Long-term sustainability of independent oversight in this sector.
  • More consistent and reliable engagement from creditors in driving fair enforcement.
  • A reliable and objective evidence base.

We highlighted evidence from our frontline debt advisors which shows that financially and otherwise vulnerable people are experiencing aggressive and unfair enforcement action at alarming levels – from rejection of reasonable repayment offers through to misrepresentation of enforcement powers and threatening and intimidating behaviour.

We were particularly pleased that the ECB has indicated that ensuring the long-term sustainability of independent oversight in the enforcement sector will be a core priority for the year ahead, and that it signalled that this would be boosted by obtaining targeted statutory powers.

Our message at StepChange continues to be that statutory underpinning for the ECB is crucial, and would provide the sustainable, independent footing to ensure that everyone who experiences enforcement action is treated fairly.