Thirty Fifth Report Contents

Instruments relating to COVID-19

One instrument relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) (Amendment) (No. 24) Regulations (SI 2020/1292) is drawn to the special attention of the House in this report (see pages 6 to 7 above).

Changes to business practice and regulation

Consumer Credit (Enforcement, Default and Termination Notices) (Coronavirus) Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1248)

31.This instrument makes permanent changes to the language and format that is prescribed13 for Enforcement, Default and Termination Notices (“the Notices”). The instrument updates the content of these Notices to make them less intimidating and easier to understand. HM Treasury explains that it is estimated that in England alone, over 100,000 people in problem debt attempt suicide each year, a situation exacerbated by the mental health and economic impacts of the pandemic. This instrument addresses these impacts and also forms part of the Government’s wider effort to help people who are struggling with their finances and mental health.

32.The instrument aims to reduce the negative impacts of the Notices on borrowers and empower them to take control of their finances by making it easier to understand the Notices and access appropriate support. The instrument makes three main changes: (i) block capitals, which have found to be intimidating for consumers, are banned from being used to aid prominence; (ii) technical legal language is removed and, where that is not possible, simple explanations need to be provided; and (iii) the wording and format of Notices is amended to improve consumers’ understanding.

Travel

Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel, Travel from Denmark) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1277)

33.The International Travel Regulations14 are further amended following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre to remove Greece (other than specified islands) and the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus from the list of exempt countries, which means that passengers arriving from those places after 14 November must self-isolate for 14 days. However, with effect from the same date, passengers arriving in England from Bahrain, Cambodia, Chile, Iceland, Laos, Qatar, Turks and Caicos Islands and United Arab Emirates are not required to self-isolate on arrival. In addition, the instrument modifies the prohibition on all transport from Denmark15 because of COVID-19 to allow for flights in transit (where no one disembarks) and medical transport to land. The instrument also allowed players, and support staff, taking part in two football matches (Denmark and Iceland on Sunday 15 November and England and Iceland on Wednesday 18 November) to travel between England and Denmark without being required to self-isolate on their arrival in, or return to, England.

Law and order

Public Health (Coronavirus) (Protection from Eviction and Taking Control of Goods) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/1290)

34.Evictions were banned during the first national lockdown and, after that “stay” expired on 20 September, were not enforced in areas of high infection at the request of the Lord Chancellor. Because of the second national lockdown, the Ministry of Justice is now legislating to prevent eviction except in the most egregious cases (for example trespass). The ban will be in force until 11 January 2021 because the Government recognise that NHS and local authority services are already under pressure and access to alternative housing may not be available over the Christmas holidays.

35.After the original restrictions on taking control of goods were lifted on 23 August 2020, bailiffs were instead required to comply with specific COVID-19-secure guidance published on the Gov.uk website.16 This instrument prohibits bailiffs from seizing goods in lieu of debt inside someone’s house for the duration of the second national lockdown. It does not, however, prevent other steps to enforce debts, including seizing goods located outside a property or at business premises. The Explanatory Memorandum states the Government’s view that this policy strikes a proportionate balance between the administration of justice and public health guidance.


13 See: Consumer Credit (Enforcement, Default and Termination Notices) Regulations 1983 (SI 1983/1561). Under the consumer protection regime, lenders are required to send Notices to borrowers to enable and empower them to make informed decisions, including by highlighting their rights and the actions a lender might take.

14 Health Protection (Coronavirus, International Travel) (England) Regulations 2020 (SI 2020/568).

16 MoJ, ‘Working safely during COVID-19: enforcement agents (bailiffs)’ (4 September 2020): https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-safely-during-covid-19-enforcement-agents-bailiffs/working-safely-during-covid-19-enforcement-agents-bailiffs [accessed 20 November 2020].




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