Posted February 1, 2023
Money Advice Trust chief executive Joanna Elson CBE looks ahead on how we will be enhancing our debt advice services in the coming months and years, as our new contracts with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) go live.
Looking back, since the start of 2020 the challenges have come thick and fast. The financial impacts of the pandemic, and more recently the energy crisis and the surging cost of living, have been felt by almost everyone. For people with less coming in and even less to fall back on, the challenges are even more acute.
Our advisers hear the impact of these trends day in, day out. Two in three National Debtline callers (66%) have had to forego buying essential items in the last 6 months – up from 49% a year ago – with 62% being concerned they will be unable to pay their energy bills in the next 6 months, up from 47% last year.
And it is not just peoples’ finances that are feeling the pressure – the impact of these challenges on mental health and wellbeing are profound, and worrying.
As the charity behind National Debtline and Business Debtline, we know the positive impact that seeking support and advice can have for people experiencing financial difficulty. Seeking free debt advice is the first vital step on the journey to feeling more in control of their situation, and being able to begin tackling their debts.
As a result of contacting National Debtline, 9 in 10 people see their debts reduce or stabilize – and 7 in 10 report a positive impact on their emotional or mental health.
In times like these, having access to advice and support is more important than ever.
That’s why we are pleased to announce today that we will be rolling out major enhancements to our National Debtline and Business Debtline services over the next three years, as our new national and business debt advice contracts with the Money and Pensions Service go live.
Enhancements to our debt advice services
Over the next three years, we will help 440,000 people in England to tackle their debts through these new MaPS contracts – which are enabling significant investment in both services. This work will complement the work that National Debtline and Business Debtline carries out in partnership with a wide range of other bodies – including the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and a large number of organisations across the credit industry and beyond.
Our new National Debtline Partnership will offer a telephone casework service to National Debtline clients for the first time – provided by Citizens Advice and Mental Health UK. We are pleased to be working with Citizens Advice and Mental Health UK to deliver this new offer, which will ensure those clients who would benefit from a casework approach will have access to this as part of their National Debtline journey.
We are thrilled that as a result of our MaPS business debt advice contract, Business Debtline will act as the new national Centre of Excellence for business debt – providing online resources for money advisers sector through a new AdviserHub, delivering training through Wiseradviser and sharing best practice with the wider advice sector. And this month we have also launched a Scotland-specific AdviserHub, following separate funding from the Scottish Government.
Both National Debtline and Business Debtline will see significant improvements in the years ahead – including improved digital tools to support a full debt advice journey, with adviser support available throughout. We will also be working to build new partnerships with the wider third sector to pro-actively engage hard-to-reach groups who may not otherwise seek debt advice – and set up additional onward referral partnership to help meet the wider needs of the people we help.
Working with our partners to do more
These enhancements and the vital services that National Debtline and Business Debtline provide would, of course, not be possible without the support of our many long-standing funders and partners.
As the cost of living crisis continues to hit households across the country, we will be continuing to work with all of our many partners to raise awareness of the crucial role debt advice plays and the life-changing difference that it makes to thousands of people every day.
As we do that, we will be using this blog to share more information on the enhancements we are making to our services – and we would welcome a conversation with anyone interested in working together to do more to help people in debt through these difficult times.
Joanna is chief executive of the Money Advice Trust. Previously, she was Executive Director at the British Bankers' Association and a Parliamentary researcher and prior to that, a primary school teacher. She has a CBE for services to people in debt. View all posts from Joanna Elson.