The model for debt advice funding is currently in the spotlight due to news of financial problems and redundancies at StepChange Debt Charity. It seems that the predicted ‘tsunami’ of demand for debt advice as a result of Covid-19 is yet to fully emerge due to the forbearance that has been offered to limit the financial impact thus far.
The debate about how debt advice should be mapped and funded across the UK is not a new one. The ‘fair share’ scheme has seen the credit and collections sector make significant financial contributions but with arguments that there is little transparency as to where this money is going.
As a data-driven organisation, we believe that the more information available, the better that debt advice services can be planned, funded, and delivered. We maintain the Register of Judgments, Orders and Fines for the UK & Ireland and have ‘live’ stats which provide key indicators on indebtedness. This data not only tells us where financial difficulty has resulted in enforcement (which is usually only used as a last resort) but also gives us a potential view on the future. We know that once a debt reaches County Court Judgment (CCJ) stage, if it is not swiftly cancelled or satisfied, it can lead to a spiral of further problems as a result of hampering access to affordable credit.
This data can be analysed at a regional level, giving an in-depth insight into where problems are most likely to emerge and where support and advice intervention is most needed. We can even provide defendant details from specific locations to organisations who are looking to offer targeted support to those in financial difficulty at time when they need it most.
It remains to be seen exactly how much demand for debt advice will increase as the full extent of the economic impact of the pandemic hits, but our data can provide ‘early warning signs’ which could make funding and delivery of much more targeted, cost effective support possible.
We’re keen to work in partnership with the money and debt advice and wider credit, collections, and enforcement sectors to help paint a clearer picture of what support is needed and where. Please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.
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