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.