The Scottish Government has published the ‘Tackling problem debt advice: routemap’ which sets out its vision for a user-centred, collaborative and sustainable free debt advice system in Scotland.
The actions set out in the routemap are all aimed in some way to improve how users find and experience free debt advice but recognises that these actions alone will not develop a user-centred system: “That requires a cultural shift, particularly among funders,” says the report. The Scottish Government therefore commits to working with the advice providers it funds to ensure that, going forward, monitoring and evaluation takes greater account of outcomes, rather than focusing on narrow performance indicators, such as advice sessions provided or call-wait times.
The three actions set out in the routemap, which are each supplemented with a set of ‘next steps’ are:
Action 1: The Scottish Government will work to understand the needs and expectations of those with problem debt.
- We will publish the report on the initial programme of user testing.
- We will use this to design and carry out a comprehensive programme of user testing.
- We will share findings of the programme with the wider sector and ensure they influence future advice provision and funding agreements.
Action 2: The Scottish Government commits to funding helpline services that reflect Scotland’s specific circumstances.
- We will fund and develop a marketing campaign exclusively for Scotland.
- We will hold a roundtable with helpline providers and those with sectoral expertise to better understand longer term barriers to user take-up in Scotland.
- We will ensure future agreements with helpline providers are designed to overcome these barriers, for example by encouraging better referral links.
- We will evaluate the success of the above actions in increasing lasting user take-up and integration in Scotland.
Action 3: The Scottish Government commits to using the levy funding to drive technological innovation.
- We will ensure the findings of the user testing and workforce strategy projects inform our understanding of channel preferences and the areas best placed for innovation.
- We will include technological innovation as part of the criteria for future levy funded programmes.
- We will evaluate 2019/20 projects, sharing findings so that lessons can be learned, and upscale these projects if results are positive.