The Money Advice Service (MAS has launched a free new resource ‘How to use behavioural science to increase the uptake of debt advice’.

The guide has been designed to assist debt advisers across the UK, to encourage over-indebted people to engage with their services.

Money Advice Service worked with Ogilvy Change, a specialist behavioural interventions agency to pilot two innovative projects which explored a critical challenge in the sector – engagement.

The results lead to the identification of “10 top tips” designed to increase the effectiveness of communications leading to an uptake of debt advice.

The two debt advice providers that took part in the pilot, Citizens Advice RCJ Advice and South West London Law Centres, have already started using this model with great optimism.

The areas of concern for the two debt advice providers that were tested in the pilots were:

  • Signposting people to services
  • Getting people to attend scheduled appointments

Within the testing period, South West London Law centres saw appointment attendance rates increase by over a third, from around 50% to 67%.

Roni Marsh, Debt Team Leader, at South West London Law centres said “Streamlined communications and more frequent contacts have had a particularly positive impact on harder to reach clients – those with mental health challenges, low literacy levels and those who had already failed to attend multiple appointments previously.”

Alison Lamb, Chief Executive at Citizens Advice RCJ Advice said “Putting the 10 top tips into action has seen some really great results. Signposting people to our services has been an ongoing struggle. During the pilot, a total of 130 signpost cards were given out, 80 of those cards went directly to individuals. Around 15% of those individuals given a card took action straight away and sought debt advice whilst still in the court.”

Colin Kinloch, Innovation and Strategy expert at Money Advice Service said “The tips in this guide are a great starting point to inform practical steps we can all take to communicate better with people that do or could use debtadvice. The results of the pilots provide a strong rationale for further work in this area and we will continue to explore the precise application of relevant insights from behavioural science to improve outcomes for over-indebted people before, during and after they access debt advice”.

The guide can be downloaded here.