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Advice projects on track to help 370,000 debtors 20 August 2015

Debt advice organisations helped more than 91,300 people with money problems during the second quarter of 2015, according to the Money Advice Service (MAS).

The MAS said there was an 80 per cent increase in the number of people receiving advice, from the 51,000 who sought help during the same period last year.

Debt advice projects are on track to help more than 370,000 people with money issues this year across the UK.

This has been made possible by collaboration between the MAS and its partners to encourage innovation around how debtors are engaged with.

It has worked with National Debtline, run by the Money Advice Trust, and Citizens Advice to increase telephone capacity. To date, this has accounted for around a third of the people helped so far this year.

And in April, two national pilots were kicked off in partnership with Citizens Advice.

The first was to create a new back office function to deal with the administration of debt relief orders (DROs), to help create more time for frontline services.

The second pilot was introduced to test a centralised telephone casework service, and to deliver web chat and email advice services in two new contact centres.

Together these new initiatives aim to help more than 16,500 people this year.

In June the MAS announced a new partnership with StepChange Debt Charity to establish a service to help people affected when debt management firms stop operating. The aim was to ensure they still had access to impartial debt advice.

Lesley Robinson, director of debt advice at the MAS, said: “The hard work our partners have put in to delivering free debt advice across the UK has generated positive results, reaching over 40,000 more indebted people this quarter compared to last year.

Joanna Elson, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “Improving access to free debt advice is crucial, especially at a time when rents are rising and the prospect of higher interest rates is on the horizon.“

A standard tool
The MAS has also been working with stakeholders to design a new income and expenditure tool to be used as part of the debt advice process with clients – the Standard Financial Statement (SFS).

This has been designed to ensure that all advice providers use the same assessment of income and expenditure, encouraging more consistency for clients and creditors. The SFS will be launched later this year.

By Marcel LeGouais



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