03Jan

The Money Advice Service (MAS) has published its new five-year debt commissioning strategy entitled ‘A strategic approach to debt advice commissioning’. The strategy is designed to:

  • Ensure debt advice services are targeted at those most in need
  • More people from these target groups access debt advice
  • Debt advice is tailored to individual needs
  • People receive effective advice at all stages of the debt advice process
  • Debt advice staff are well-trained and empathetic
  • Clients can access complementary sources of debt advice
  • Debt advice makes appropriate use of existing and emerging technologies

The strategy is particularly aimed at over-indebted people with dependent children, or a low household income, and those who are experiencing mental ill health.

At the same time, the MAS released a companion report entitled ‘Better debt advice: From a moment of crisis to a lifetime of resilience’. This report aims to: understand what clients need from advice, and how advice is delivering against those needs; identify practices that result in good outcomes for clients; and identify how debt advice providers could do things differently and/or better.

Some of the issues covered in this companion report include:

  • Debt advice processes were often not resolving the root cause of an individual’s debt problem, such as legal issues, relationship breakdown, unemployment, addiction etc.
  • Debt advice processes are struggling to deliver long-term solutions in general
  • Clients may need more support with general money management issues

The MAS Business Plan for 2018/19 proposes to increase funding of debt advice by £8 million, to enable a further 90,000 people to receive advice.

MAS is set to merge with Pension Wise and The Pensions Advisory Service to create a new ‘single financial guidance body’ sometime in 2018.

Sheila Wheeler, Director of Debt Advice at the MAS, said:

“The needs of those with problem debt are at the heart of this five-year strategy. We were delighted with the level of input we received into the consultation process and pleased that there seems to be a consistent, industry wide appetite for change. We must build partnerships across the industry to deliver better immediate and longer-term outcomes for those most in need.”

Francis McGee, Director of External Affairs of StepChange Debt Charity, said:

“The strategy is an important milestone in modernising free debt advice provision in the UK. We look forward to working with MAS and other partners over the coming years to make the intentions in the strategy a working reality for vulnerable people.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.