Through this policy Make it Sustainable (MIS) wishes to simplify its processes, improve consistency of approach to Unit Partners and ensure monies owing to MIS are paid promptly.  To do this we will introduce measures to incentivise prompt payment, tackle missed payments quickly and pursue outstanding accounts receivable where appropriate.

Minimising new debts

MIS, because of its community ethos and through lack of staff capacity, has found it hard to deal with debtors.  To avoid these situations all Unit Partners will be asked again to set up standing orders. All new agreements will stipulate payment by standing order.

The following course of action will be employed if a payment is missed:

·         Week 1: A reminder email – one week after a missed payment – with a request to talk to OPW if there are significant problems.

·         Week 3: If no payment is received within the following two weeks, a second reminder email, re-emphasising the need for payment, and a discussion about payment.

·         Week 5: If no payment has been made and no schedule for the paying back of the debt has been agreed, the Unit Partner will be issued with a notice to quit their unit within a week.

The website now also allows for payment by card of sums owed – so instant payment can be made.

It is recognised that some Unit Partners do from time to time have difficulties. It is the Unit Partner’s responsibility to initiate discussions with us about these difficulties.  In these circumstances where the payment lapse is a one-off (and not part of a regular pattern) an agreement might be possible that allows for partial immediate repayment plus a phased repayment ideally over a maximum of 3 months.  If it looks likely that a Unit Partner can no longer afford a unit, we will help to facilitate a transition into a shared or membership space.

Small Claims Court

Where debts are with current Unit Partners, all efforts will be made to come to an agreed method of repayment over a reasonable time period.   Where debts are with ex-Unit Partners we will use the UK Government web-based guide to the process here and here. All of our outstanding accounts receivable are eligible.

To make a claim online there is an upfront cost payable by debit or credit card, from £25 to £410 and only takes about 30 minutes.  These will not be the only costs if the defendants opt for a court hearing and if the court hearing needs enforcing.  If we choose to go ahead with a court claim then we will ensure we comply with the Ministry of Justice’s Practice Direction for ‘pre-action conduct’ before issuing the claim. This is detailed here and includes writing to the debtor. They recommend trying a mediation service. The link to this advice is here.  There is a six-year time limit on such claims. All current debts to MIS fall within this period.

The operational team will decide which debts to prioritise, based on the size of the debt, the likelihood of repayment and any complicating factors. In conjunction with advice from the accountants, the operational team is empowered to decide if debts should be written off, and when would be the best time for this to happen.  The operational team will report back to the board from time to time with progress made. 

Revised December 2017