The Money Advice Trust has welcomed an expected commitment from the Prime Minister to review GP charges for the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form. The form enables people with mental health and debt problems to access additional support from their creditors, such as freezing interest payments and other forbearance measures. The announcement of a government review is due to be made in a speech by the Prime Minister this morning, and follows a campaign led by the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute, backed by the Money Advice Trust and 13 other charities.
An investigation by Money & Mental Health found that one in three people who asked their GP for the Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form ended up being charged – with typical costs ranging from £20 to £50, and some far higher.
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said “Debt and mental health problems can often go hand in hand – and the fact that people have had to pay their GP for this paperwork has been a long-running injustice. This news offers some hope that this can finally be put to an end. We welcome this review, and hope that a solution can be found so that no customers in vulnerable circumstances end up paying for the paperwork they need to access additional support. Martin Lewis and the team at Money and Mental Health have worked extremely hard to secure this important step forward, and we look forward to continuing to support the campaign as the review takes place.
“In the meantime, we are encouraged that creditors are continuing to invest in improving outcomes for customers in vulnerable circumstances. Demand for the Money Advice Trust’s training on vulnerability has never been higher, and we are working hard to spread this best practice further.”
The Debt and Mental Health Evidence Form was developed by the Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG), with support from the advice sector, mental health charities and credit industry.
News of the review comes at a time when the issue of vulnerability more widely is high on the agenda in the wake of the FCA’s Occasional Paper and the report of the British Bankers’ Association’s Vulnerability Taskforce, chaired by Money Advice Trust chief executive Joanna Elson OBE.
Caroline Rookes, CEO of the Money Advice Service said “It is encouraging to see that the impact mental health issues can have is being recognised at the highest level. We know from our own research that mental health problems rarely occur as an isolated issue and that there is a strong link between mental health issues and money issues, such as problem debt. 52% of people who received debt advice from our services have a mental health condition and it is therefore vital that there is closer working between the mental health and debt advice sectors so that people can be supported holistically. The announced review of charges made for completing the “debt and mental health evidence form” should help to improve access to appropriate solutions for people with overlapping debt and mental health issues.”