Debt Counsellors Waiting To Renew Annual Certification
Debt Counsellors across South Africa are desperately waiting for documentation & emails from the National Credit Regulator so that they can pay their annual renewal.
Debt Counsellors complete an education course about the National Credit Act and write an exam granting them a qualification and the ability to apply for registration as a Debt Counsellor with the National Credit Regulator (NCR). The registration process can take many months but eventually, the Registrant will receive a certificate from the NCR saying that they are registered and can practice. These certificates are used at court level to show the courts that the person making suggestions to the court on how the debt should be repaid is qualified and registered.
Courts use proposals made by Debt Counsellors to make their lives easier and to help prepare an efficient and fair way for debt to be repaid by consumers under debt review. The court may change what is proposed when it makes the order but often the suggestion from the Debt Counsellor is followed, for the most part. In this way, the Debt Counsellors work, not for consumers or credit providers but for the legal system and the courts.
A few years ago, the NCR decided to provide annual renewal certificates (which are then paid for each year) to registrants. This involves invoicing and issuing certificates each year around midyear. At the same time, the cost to renew has been pushed up drastically over time. Though this may seem like a profitable exercise for the Regulator the workload soon outdoes any such calculations. It did, however, enable the NCR to lapse the registration of many people with the Debt Counsellors qualification who were not actively practising. This also had the benefit of meaning the NCR then no longer had to audit or monitor these individuals saving them time and effort. Many other Debt Counsellors who casually helped just a few individuals each year decided to leave the industry, at that time, since they had to bear that cost.
‘Due to interruptions in the workflow at the NCR due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, many Debt Counsellors have been left waiting to renew their certification’
Due to interruptions in the workflow at the NCR due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, many Debt Counsellors have been left waiting to renew their certification for use at courts (which are now open again for matters like debt review). For the majority of the lockdown, the NCR, like many government departments, sent most, if not all, their staff home and were not able to work remotely.
Debt Counsellors have been sending emails and requests to the NCR for official invoices which they can make payments on. Some Debt Counsellors have made payments in advance not waiting for an invoice in an effort to avoid having the NCR lapse their registration. If this happens Debt Counsellors have to go through the long and arduous application process again and can not receive payment from their clients while waiting for the NCR to complete their registration again.
‘Debt Counsellors have been sending emails and requests to the NCR for official invoices which they can make payments on.’
Some Debt Counsellors are now reporting that invoices have started to come through for the renewals but most have been left waiting. The lockdown and Covid-19 Pandemic have resulted in the NCR issuing a number of temporary changes to the usual workflow and debt review process to help everyone cope with the disruptions. Though most of these have now been undone it seems delays in some aspects of the usual work year will naturally be disrupted due to backlogs.
Get Help – Others Are
The majority of Debt Counsellors saw a drastic drop in the level of applications for help during the first 3 months of the lockdown. Now, however, some practices are reporting that application numbers are starting to climb as people realise the extent of the financial problems they face. If you are finding yourself under debt stress then why not reach out to a Debt Counsellor (online or over the phone) and chat to them about your current debt situation and options you have for sorting those out?