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On 24 October 2019, we held our most successful conference yet on ‘The Changing Face of Debt Advice’ at No. 11 Cavendish Square in London.

Keynote speakers, report launches, panel sessions, workshops and a ‘big debate’ addressed the key challenges faced by debt advisers now and in the future, and looked at what the sector and its stakeholders must do to overcome them.

From how debt advice is coordinated and funded to make it ‘fit for the future’, to the impact of Open Banking and Government debt collection reform, delegates from across the credit and debt landscape were brought together to find sustainable, collaborative solutions – and as always with MALG events, there was lots of lively debate and discussion!

Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors and exhibitors, 200+ delegates, and team members who made it a memorable productive event, and thank you for all the constructive feedback we have received, including this from Lee Healey, Managing Director of IncomeMax CIC:

“Never have I been more sure of the need for the Money Advice Liaison Group than today at #MalgConf2019. It was really inspiring to have so many creditors, organisations, money advisers and stakeholders working together on the issue of debt. Yes it can feel frustrating. It can feel like we’re talking about the same old things. Like nothing ever changes. That it’s an insurmountable problem. But those feelings of frustration are to be embraced in my opinion. It’s precisely why we need to be working together. To solve problems together. To see what new technologies can help. To remind ourselves of the basic human need to support people in debt because it’s the right thing to be doing. Well done to the MALG team for a great conference.”

MALG Conference 2019 Programme (speaker slides from sessions that had them can be downloaded below)

09.00   Registration, coffee and exhibition

10.00   Welcome from MALG Chair Liz Barclay

10.10   Keynote speaker: Anna Laycock, CEO, Finance Innovation Lab (The state we’re in: Making sense of a world in flux)

10.30   Keynote speaker: Caroline Siarkiewicz, Acting CEO, Money & Pensions Service (Coordinating the debt advice sector to meet ever increasing demands) DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES


  • Money & Pensions Service ‘No Show’ Report (Jair Munoz-Bugarin) DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES
  • Debt & Mental Health Evidence Form update from Money Advice Trust (Matt Hartley)

11.00   Networking break

11.30   Breakout Sessions 1

  • Breakout 1a: Cabinet Office: Tackling Problem Debt. Facilitator – Kevin Shaw (Money & Pensions Service). Speakers – Steven Coppard (Cabinet Office), Ivan O’Brien and Rich Sullivan-Jones (National Audit Office). DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

Problem debt, which is defined as the inability to pay debts or household bills, affects around 9 million people in the UK and the NAO estimates that the UK public owe at least £18 billion to utility providers, landlords, housing associations and government, such as through council tax arrears or benefit overpayments. This session will set out government work to improve support for those with public sector debts and invite delegate feedback. 

  • Breakout 1b: How do we deal with deficit budgets? Speakers – Jane Tully and Chloe Ramone (Money Advice Trust), Dave Orbinson (StepChange Debt Charity), Christy McAleese and Jasmin Matin (Citizens Advice). DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

Increasingly the advice sector is dealing with more clients whose money coming in is not enough to cover essential household bills. With the picture for these households often complex and the consequences challenging, what more can be done to support clients with deficit budgets? 

Sponsored by Cabot.

  • Breakout 1c: Competition v Collaboration. Speakers – Anna Hall (Citizens Advice), Vikki Brownridge (StepChange Debt Charity). DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

At a time of upheaval and change across the sector, money advice is due to face an unprecedented demand on its services. This session will provide an opportunity to reflect on the importance of collaboration, as well as the challenges competition brings and how working together in the future may look. 

12.30   Lunch

13.30   The Big Debate: Delivering a sustainable funding model for debt/money advice

  • Facilitator – Francis McGee (Money & Pensions Service)
  • Panellists – Vikki Brownridge (StepChange Debt Charity), Jane Tully (Money Advice Trust), David Hawkes (Advice UK), Mark Wilkinson (Northumbrian Water), Bruce McLaren (Intrum).

With the demand for debt advice increasing at a time when capacity is already stretched, this session will look to explore what is required to fund a robust and sustainable debt advice sector. We’ll be asking our panel of experts what are the high level issues and challenges with how funding works now, who do you think has a responsibility for funding debt advice and what do we each need to do to increase funding?

14.30   Breakout Sessions 2

  • Breakout 2a: Open Banking. Facilitator – Bob Winnington (Money Advice Liaison Group). Speakers – Sandra Parry (Digimass), Gareth McNab (Nationwide). DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

Perhaps for the first time in more than fifty years the customer is in a position to learn how to take control and manage their money better. This session will put Open Banking in perspective and explain how consumers and those that support them can start exploring the many advantages already available as well as those still to come.  

  • Breakout 2b: Reshaping the Local Authority approach to debt recovery. Facilitator – Craig Simmons (Money & Pensions Service). Speakers – Matt Hartley (Money Advice Trust), Norman Lockie (London Borough of Southwark). DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

Debt advice agencies continue to report an upward trend in people seeking help with debts owed to their local authority. This session will bring together voices from both the debt advice and local authority perspectives on the unique challenges and new progressive approaches.  

  • Breakout 2c: Debt Advice Trailblazer Group. Speakers – Sebrina McCullough (Trailblazer Group Chair/Think Money Group), Martin Keeves (Institute for Apprenticeships), Lydia Drake (Christian’s Against Poverty), Andrew Tupman (StepChange Debt Charity). DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

Developed in collaboration with free-to-client and commercial debt advice providers, trade bodies, creditors and training providers, the soon to be launched cross-sector Debt Advice Apprenticeship qualification will seek to establish debt advice as an attractive professional career. With the government supporting 95% of the cost per apprentice, this session will discuss the opportunities for employers and their staff in the sector. 

15.30   Networking break

15.55   Keynote speaker: Helen Bierton, Head of Banking, Starling Bank (Helping you lead a healthy financial life). Sponsored by Cabot. DOWNLOAD SPEAKER SLIDES

16.20   MALG Chair Liz Barclay’s closing remarks