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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

Pre-enforcement: preparing a case for enforcement: Quality Gateway checks for direct taxes: introduction


The Quality Gateway checks were developed to use the information that we already hold on our numerous IT systems to validate the debt and to make quality decisions on the appropriate recovery action.

All cases are to be subjected to quality checks at the pre-enforcement stage before enforcement action is taken. This includes cases on the IDMS caseworker enforcement worklists (for example distraint/CCP worklist).

By validating the debts before enforcement action is commenced we will:

  • increase the certainty of both tax and costs being paid
  • avoid wasted expenditure on unproductive enforcement actions
  • provide greater assurance that we are taking consistent actions focussed on the debtor rather than on the type of tax debt

This approach does not move away from the normal business processes for debt management. Nor does it remove the need to refer to the pre-enforcement guidance in DMBM575000 onwards or other relevant manuals/guides.

Once the debt has been validated and you are sure that enforcement or insolvency is the next action then you must follow the guidance to ensure consistent treatment of all cases in the selection of cases for the relevant enforcement path, this can be found at DMBM605400.


Experience from the Business Design and Field Force pilots has shown that between 30-40% of cases on the distraint worklist are not really suitable for distraint and a number of process maps/checklists, called Quality Gateway (QG) checks, have been developed to help identify such cases.

It has also shown that in many cases where CCP or Ordinary Cause action has been taken there is little prospect of recovery and it would have been preferable to resolve the case by other, less expensive means.

The main problems occurred when determinations, automatic surcharges and penalties had been raised on individuals and companies who are no longer in business or who had registered but had never actually been in business.

The QG checks have also been useful in reviewing old post judgment CCP cases. The skills required for reviewing post judgment and decree cases are similar to those for the QG checks so people with the necessary skills should be available in each cluster.

This exercise also provides an ideal opportunity to introduce revised enforcement and insolvency selection criteria for all DMB staff when considering enforcement for both direct and indirect taxes.