The Money Advice Service (MAS) has launched a five-year debt commissioning strategy that outlines a challenging and exciting plan to ensure debt advice services target those most in need.
Following an extensive consultation with over 175 organisations across a range of sectors, ‘A strategic approach to debt advice commissioning’ sets out a new approach that aims to improve the quality of services delivered and consistency of client outcomes.
Working with partners to provide holistic support for financially vulnerable groups, the new approach will deliver the following client outcomes:
· An increasing proportion of clients from target groups access debt advice services;
· Everyone receives a service which is tailored to their needs and increases their financial resilience. (N.B: This is embedding financial capability where possible);
· Clients receive timely and effective advice at all stages of the advice process.;
· Clients receive effective advice in line with their needs from well-trained, empathic staff;
· Clients are able to access, or are sign-posted to, services complementary to debt advice to help them address the root causes of their debt problem;
· Existing and emerging technologies are effectively utilised to meet client need.
These outcomes will have a particular focus on over-indebted people with dependent children, a low household income and those who are experiencing mental ill health.
Sheila Wheeler, Director of Debt Advice at the Money Advice Service 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.”
The commissioning of services will adopt a regional and phased approach, to reduce risk of service disruption and accommodate capacity within the sector, a decision that received overwhelming support during consultation. This process will begin with London and the North West of England.
The strategy has been designed to be responsive to the challenges identified in the debt advice sector, with the focus of the commissioning approach to work supportively with partners to improve the quality of debt advice across the services delivered. To complement this, MAS has also published the report, “Better debt advice – from a moment of crisis to a lifetime of resilience*”. This summarises the results of the largest study of debt advice delivery in the UK thus completed.
Supporting stakeholder quotes:
Francis McGee, Director of External Affairs of StepChange Debt Charity: “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.”
Chris Sherwood, Chief Executive of Relate: “Relate welcomes this new approach to commissioning debt advice services and the focus on addressing the root causes of debt. The Money Advice Service rightly recognises the benefits of collaboration between debt advice and complementary services to meet people’s needs holistically.
“At Relate, we’re keen to see relationship support among the services brought together to support families. This is backed up by our own recentresearch which shows that relationships can have a big impact on how people manage their finances, and vice versa, and calls for debt advice and relationship support to be more linked-up.”
Emma Cross, Financial Support Partnerships Manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, says: “Being diagnosed with a long-term condition such as cancer can have a huge financial impact with both immediate and long term consequences; it’s welcome that the strategy has recognised this and will work to support the complex needs of this vulnerable group.”
Kathryn Burgess, project lead for the EMMA project and executive director for Community Advice and Law Service: “We are pleased to see the launch of this new five year debt commissioning strategy. The Money Advice Service has shown that they are listening to key stakeholders and acting on the recommendations they have received. “We are looking forward to the roll out and the positive impact it will have on the provision of debt advice.. MAS is taking a brave step and we applaud them for this.”
NOTES TO EDITORS