Debts - recovery from a serving soldier

Discussion in 'Army Pay, Claims & JPA' started by Cuddles, Jan 17, 2007.

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  1. I am a trustee of a child-care scheme. We have a problem where a female soldier has failed to pay her child's fees. The kindly caring women who run the scheme have let her accrue almost a thousand pounds worth of debt from last year/last term. she is currently weekly adding another hundred and fifty sovs.

    Now this will if allowed to go unchecked be a major financial problem for us - and hence affect all the other families who are involved. This soldier has accrued a big debt and I am wondering what can be done to recover the fees. I also would like to continue to offer her child care - she is a single parent - but we cannot allow this problem to just grow, like topsy. Her ex is also serving but is deployed on operations.

    What is the best way to approach this if necessary via the CofC - without ruining any career she may have? I believe she is working in a sensitive headquarters.
    Thank you
    Cuddles being very serious for once
  2. I would suggest the ifrst problem is to ensure theat she pays her way from now. Perhaps a meeting between yourself and the person running the facility and her to discuss the situation and ensure she understands that something has to be done.

    If this is a problem perhaps the local chaplain may help. I can understand your desire in the first instance to keep this informal, but I fear she has to understand that unless a solution can be found fast it will have to become official, after all I suspect the situation will not be able to be hidden beyond your next annual audit.

  3. Letter before action then small claims court, can be done on line:

    Very easy to do and is outside of Mil CoC and wont interfere with her job, unless she doesnt pay up then she will have a CC Judgement which will be picked up on Vetting if she is SC or DV.

    Explaining this inthe letter before action may prompt her to come up with repayment arrangements, if not the file online.

    You have to include in the letter before action a breakdown of the amount owed, in order to proceed to court if she doesnt pay.
  4. Audit is not a problem for us - it is an acknowledged debt and we do not have an "embezzlement" scenario, we have a failure to pay fees scenario. I am pretty sure she is in serious financial difficulty across the piece but as she is carrying on to grow the debt I am sure she has not approached her CofC for advice - perhaps she is in denial? In any case I think I am really asking, how do I broach this with her cofC if she doesn't take action decisively after the meeting you refer to.
  5. to allow someone to accrue a large debt is irresponsible. I know that money is a sensitive area for a lot of people but the soldier is getting her self in deeper the longer it is left. In my opinion if you do not want to make waves a meeting must be set up to discuss the outstanding amount. I suppose the threat of withdrawal of services is out of the question but a contract of agreement must be made between the carers and the debtor with an agreed plan of repayments. The soldier must be made aware that bad money management is unacceptable in the armed forces and any breach of the agreement would result in her superiors being involved, attachment of earnings Etc. Sometimes people just don't realise, other things on their minds like partner on ops etc. I am sure their joint income should help solve the shortfall. As I said just my opinion, Worked as a debt collector for a bit, Butler is a much nicer job though
  6. My concern about the audit was more that after the audit certainly in the RN the documents would go to a senior officer for approval and of course a debt which is big enough to concern you will concern said senior officer.

    As to what do do after the initial interview, perhaps one has to have the interview first to see how she reacts, perhaps SAFFA is another source of good advice for you.

  7. Cuddles,

    This issue is absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the chain of command, and the days when the Army acted as unpaid debt collectors disappeared many moons ago.

    Solution is quit simple. Ask her to remove her child from your child-care scheme and invoke civil action to recover your money.

  8. I think Cuddles is quite rightly trying to see if there is a way of dealing with the problem without quite so much brutality, which may well result in said woman losing her income, house and becoming a burden on us the tax payers. I agree something should have been done sooner, but still if she is actually a good soldier then a little effort no may well be well repayed later.


    ps if she has always been a liability now may be a very good time from the armies point of view to dump her.
  9. Cuddles,

    As you know, I'm a bit of a G1 ninja. However, I am also fortunate enough to be married to a finance and credit ninja.

    PAW's point that this is nothing to do with her employer is absolutely correct and (1) there is nothing the Army can do to force her to pay and (2) there is nothing the Army can do to her for being in debt. If her debts force her or her partner to leave their employment prematurely, then that is a private matter, of no concern to the public purse.

    However, as the owner of the debt, you have and number of options, that are dependent upon you taking formal action.

    First, it must be formally established that she is aware of the obligation to pay and of the nature of the debt. Did she sign a contract on engagement of your services to provide childcare? She should have done and you should have a copy, as should she. This should confirm her obligation to pay and the service for which she is paying.

    Second, you must ensure that she has no problems with either the service or charges for that service (technically known as a "query") which might give her a legitimate reason to withhold payment in part or in whole.

    Third, you must effectively communicate the nature of the debt to her. By and large this means etiher physically handing her a statement of account setting out the debt, itemized by service and date, or sending her a copy by registered post.

    Once these steps have been completed, she must then be given a fixed date by which the date must be settled in full or by which time you (the service provider) and she (the customer) must have reached an agreement on a payment plan. The consequence of non-payment (i.e. withholding service - no longer providing childcare) must be clearly and explicitly stated in the terms of this settlement.

    If she fails to pay, the service to her must stop. As stated above, it is irresponsible of you to continue providing a service when either the intention or the ability to pay ("character" and "capability" in technical terms) are evidently lacking. Cessation of service is likely to provoke a response from the customer if none has been received to date.

    Bring ear-plugs and kleenex (for the tears, you perverts!!).

    At this point, the subject of a payment plan can be raised once more. If the customer is able to settle a proportion of the debt in installments, then it may be possible to reach an agreement to re-establish the provision of the service once a certain proportion has been paid (25%, say, or 50%). But payment terms must subsequently be strictly enforced and service withdrawn at the first sign of non-payment.

    If no agreement can be reached, then you have two options:

    (1) Write off the debt. This may be necessary if the customer is likely to present a future problem or if you feel the reputation of your service may be damaged by legal action. However, if the amount is such that your profits will suffer from non-payment, then option (2) is the only recourse:

    (2) Go legal. This doesn't necessarily mean engaging a solicitor. Instead, you can engage a reputable collections agency. They will charge a fee that can be added to the total amount owed and will then obtain court documents entitling them to seize property to the value owed. The agency will dispose of the property through auction or private sale and will then present a cheque for the full amount owed to yourself.

    In future, you may wish to develop a policy for dealing with non-payment, setting clients a pre-defined credit limit and the actions that will be taken if the limit is exceeded, explicitly stating how long each client has to settle his or her bill and the action that will follow non-payment. Include this policy in the contract for services.

    I hope that's useful.


  10. Maxi,

    Let's make the position on this issue clear through use of a simple analogy.

    You have a contract with your local TV shop with regard to rental of AV eqpt. You fail to pay the rental bill for 3 months. TV shop gets annoyed and writes to your employer outlining their concerns and asking them to help recover the money. Outcome:

    A. Your employer tells them to bugger off and never to raise the issue again, and this is the absolute end of the matter


    B. Your employer calls you in to discuss the issue of this debt and how you are going to repay it.

    You then:

    A. Throw a wobbler and tell the employer to bugger off, shortly afterwards going back to the TV shop to give them the mother of all bollockings.


    B. Say thank you to employer for interfering in my personal finance management, and how sorry you are, and how it will never ever happen again.

    Take your pick.


    PS Are members of HM Forces not taxpayers also then?
  11. Many thanks to the gallery. I think you have all cleared up my dinosaur/race memories of the days when as PAW puts it the Army acted as debt-collectors in ordinary to the German HP industry.

    WE have already produced a letter before action and one of my co-trustees - a nice but firm lady (metaphorically speaking for the ear-plug and kleenex perverts) - will be seeking that interview. AB2006 and red shaggy dog thank you particularly for the PMs of great good value.

    As for the "hang 'em high" contingent...there but for the grace of god go we all I feel. Big love to the G1 Massive...peace, out...
  12. ViroBono

    ViroBono LE Moderator

    There is another option to add to IF's excellent suggestions; you could suggest to her that she enters into a voluntary Debt Management Plan with the scheme). In this, you would agree not to take further enforcement action or add charges/interest, whilst she would make regular payments, at an affordable and agreed rate, until the debt is repaid. The agreement can be put into writing and should she default, you are more likely to get judgment at County Court because you can demonstrate that you made efforts to recover the money before going down the legal route.

    If the soldier has general debt problems, she would probably benefit from taking advice from one of the debt management organisations such as National Debtline, PayPlan or CCCS (CAB is another possibility, but she needs to ensure she sees only their specialist finance worker). They can advise on debt, and PayPlan and CCCS can also set up formal DMPs.

    Debt collectors should be very much a last resort; very very few don't break the law or the OFT guidelines, and they can be quite easily foiled if the debtor has good advice.