MaPS provides debt advice commissioning update

22nd October 2021

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPs) has provided an update on debt advice commissioning following the completion of a key stage of the procurement process

As well as providing money and pensions guidance through the MoneyHelper and Pension Wise brands, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), the largest single funder of debt advice provision in England, is working with a number of providers to do so. 

MaPS has recently been out to tender for debt advice provision in England. This new approach will support debt advisers in providing expert, free of charge debt advice to people who are struggling to keep on top of their bills and payments. Throughout the process MaPs have shared information via our procurement portal, accessible to everyone registering an interest in accessing it. It has also held market engagement events and responded to hundreds of questions from interested parties. All bids are now submitted and evaluation is underway.

When MaPs published the requirements for the provision of debt advice, it has asked potential providers to tell us how they would provide a seamless experience for customers, including vulnerable people with complex needs. MaPs designed these new service standards together with actual debt advice customers, as well as using insight from debt advisers and our previous commissioning. Importantly, we have built-in flexibility to take into account how things might change as a result of the pandemic.

MaPs wants to give long-term certainty to the debt advice community, so MaPS intends to let contracts for an initial three year period, moving away from the current system of one-year grants.

MaPs says that advisers working on the front line know their customers best, so we’ve asked debt advice providers to tell us how they will deliver what customers need, in the way that customers need it, including continuing to offer face-to-face services. We also want them to consider how other service channels – such as virtual appointments – should also form part of the service they offer. In addition, we asked providers to set out how they will protect the wellbeing of advisers, and invest in their training and career progression.

The government’s furlough and payment holiday policies have been really successful in helping many people stay in control of their finances during the pandemic, but we know that demand for debt advice will increase over the coming months, and cases may become more complex. We want to make sure that we are all ready to respond to that increase and provide the expert support people need as they work through their debt advice journey and get their finances back on track.

In a statement, MaPS said” MaPS’ debt advice recommissioning is the most significant investment in debt advice ever made. It will materially increase the amount of debt advice available to people in England, ensure services are built around customers’ needs and be based on modern good public funding practices. We’ve asked debt advice providers to tell us how they will deliver what customers need, including through continuing to offer face-to-face services.”

“We also want them to consider how other channels – such as virtual appointments – should also form part of the service they offer.”