SPER streamlining to recoup payments

Treasurer Curtis Pitt has introduced legislation into Parliament to change the way the State Penalties Enforcement Registry operates, making it easier for the agency to recover outstanding debts and easier for debtors to pay.

Mr Pitt said the total SPER debt was nearing $1.2 billion following the decision by former Treasurer Tim Nicholls to automatically refer all toll road fines to SPER, so further action was necessary.

“If people paid their fines and tolls on time there would be no need for SPER but the fact is this debt continues to balloon which means we need new tactics to address it,” Mr Pitt said.

“Queenslanders rightly expect debtors to pay their fines one way or another and that includes non-monetary means.

“SPER’s original operating model was based on the assumption of single debts that would be paid quickly, obviously this has not been happening for a range of reasons.

“So we’re giving SPER more flexibility to target different types of debtors with different strategies, rather than simply continuing with the status quo.

“The new model to be implemented under the Bill involves moving from a one-size-fits-all debt-recovery model to a contemporary risk-based approach that uses targeted strategies to enable effective debtor case management. 

“About 10 per cent of SPER debtors (over 70,000 people) are responsible for about 20 per cent of the total $1.7 billion in debts but they have little to no capacity to pay because of financial hardship or other issues.

“We want SPER to be able to differentiate between those who refuse to pay and those facing genuine financial hardship to obtain payment through different strategies.”

 

Provisions in the Bill will modernise the management of penalty debt from unpaid fines or tolls with the aim of:

stopping large debts accumulating,

introducing new options to address large debts when they do occur, and

lessening pressure on the SPER system and allowing it to do its job of collecting fines.

 

Under the proposed scheme, eligible hardship debtors will be able to pay off their debt by:

undertaking financial or other counselling;

undertaking unpaid work/community service; or

undertaking treatment – where relevant —- to address drug, alcohol, or other personal issues that may have contributed to a failure to manage or address their debt.

 

The Palaszczuk Government has already rolled out a range of initiatives, including commencing wheel clamping last year, to target debtors willfully flouting the law:

A new IT system: The state signed a $58.8m contract with CGI to implement a debt recovery solution that will provide SPER with access to a solution offering global best practices in debt recovery. This will enable faster collections while balancing fairness with effectiveness. SPER and CGI are now working together to implement the new solution in the second half of 2017. The new smart and responsive solution will also provide global best practices in customer profiling, behavioural economics, system reporting and channel management.

Wheel clamping in south-east Queensland: The vehicle immobilisation, seizure and sale program is targeting people who owe more than $5000 in unpaid fines.

Work and development orders: SPER has begun a consultation process with key community stakeholders on the opportunity to introduce Work and Development Orders to help people experiencing genuine financial hardship to reduce or pay off their SPER debt.

New tolling framework: In 2016, the state, through the Department of Transport and Main Roads and SPER, agreed with Transurban Qld a new tolling enforcement process and compliance regime to achieve better outcomes through more targeted processes.

Outbound calling campaigns: SPER has begun outbound calling campaigns to remind people of the consequences of not paying their fine on time and to encourage them to make payment.

 

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