People in Financial Difficulties

Work to support people in financial difficulties can be considered from three perspectives:

  1. Early intervention to prevent emerging issues from becoming more serious
  2. Crisis support to help resolve a debt problem that requires urgent attention
  3. Building resilience so that (after crisis support) future debt problems become less likely

Coordinating work to support people in financial difficulties is the responsibility of the Debt Advice Steering Group (DASG), chaired by the Money Advice Service and drawing its membership from the senior staff of the major advice sector and creditor organisations from across the UK. The Money Advice Service has a central role to playing the delivery of this aspect of the Strategy given its stator responsibility to coordinate the debt advice sector – or more precisely to work with partners to improve the availability, quality and consistency of debt advice.

The DASG has established increased engagement with debt advice as its current priority, in light of the extremely low proportion of over-indebted people that seek such support.

Current estimates are that only 17% of over-indebted people – of whom there are 8m in the UK – seek advice.

Priorities for the Strategy are to:

  • Develop and implement effective early arrears and pre-arrears interventions with multiple partners including housing associations, local authorities and financial services firms.
  • Identify the most effective ways to increase engagement through a series of pilots targeting clearly identified groups using evidence-based behavioural science techniques.
  • Maximise opportunities in the debt advice process to build a savings habit amongst clients and provide access to a wider suite of services, including psychological therapies.
  • Deepen understanding of the impact of debt advice in the long-term and clearly assess the social and economic benefits of advice to creditors, health professionals and UK Plc.

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