The money advice sector

As part of our commitment to help non-standard credit market customers, we work with and provide financial support to a wide range of free and voluntary money advice organisations to help those who may have problems repaying their debts to us and others, and to increase the quality and availability of free, independent money advice in the UK.

In 2014, the free and voluntary money advice organisations we supported included:

Christians Against Poverty

The funding we provided to CAP during 2014 continued to be used to support the work of its Insolvency Team, who make insolvency bursary payments to those clients with a Debt Relief Order. CAP are used by those with low levels of debt but no prospect of paying it off – due to low income and asset levels, and no means to enter bankruptcy. Through our funding, CAP enabled 233 people to go through an insolvency route during 2014, giving them a fresh start and a way out of debt.

Institute of Money Advisers

The funding we gave to the Institute of Money Advisers enabled the Institute to update and improve its office IT infrastructure. This included replacing the Institute’s server to cope with the demands of an increased number of staff and a growing organisation.

Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG)

We continue to fund MALG to run regional meetings to improve communication, understanding and good practice between advisers and creditors.

Money Advice Trust (including National Debtline)

The funding we provided to the Money Advice Trust was used by their Insight and Engagement function to undertake research into the Trust’s services to ensure they are meeting the needs of the people the Trust serves. This included:

  • Using independent research and data from National Debtline to help understand how the debt landscape today differs from that in 2007, therefore enabling the Trust to respond to their clients’ changing needs.
  • Carrying out ongoing research to enable the Trust to understand what advice clients of its National Debtline and Business Debtline want, and which channels should be used to deliver this advice.
  • Supporting the Trust’s Christmas campaign, which included conducting a survey to understand how people manage their Christmas finances, and also launching a campaign to help prevent a post-Christmas debt hangover for households.
  • Continuing to support the research being undertaken by Professor John Gathergood from Nottingham University, into the needs of Business Debtline clients to improve the service they receive. The funding we provided to National Debtline in 2014 covered the cost of a Specialist National Debtline Adviser. This specialist deals with clients with complex debt problems and helps approximately 1,800 individuals each year. National Debtline receives positive feedback on its services, including 98% of clients feeling clear about the next steps they need to take to deal with their situation following their call to National Debtline.

We also support publicly available, independent research to help understand the financial behaviour of those on modest incomes and increase the quality and availability of free, independent money advice in the UK. For example, in 2014 we supported research undertaken by the Social Market Foundation which led to the publication of the report: “Bargaining on a low income: A better deal for consumers.” This report draws on new data analysis, interviews and focus groups, and a nationally representative poll to provide an in-depth understanding of low income consumers’ experiences of value in different markets. It sets out four key areas to be addressed by policy makers to ensure markets are better tailored to the needs and demands of low income consumers. We also work with specialised providers on a range of further financial education initiatives and help finance publicly-available, independent research to help understand the financial behaviour of those on modest incomes. For example, in 2014, colleagues from Vanquis Bank worked with The Money Charity to deliver responsible spending workshops to 11–16 year-old secondary school pupils in Chatham.

Also, support was provided to the organisation Bright Blue, which initiated research during 2014. The research that is being undertaken by Bright Blue will focus on self-employment and entrepreneurialism in low-income areas. Bright Blue’s research will add to the evidence base by providing more detailed information on the origins, nature and experiences of self-employment among low-income people, with new policy ideas to support the number and success of those in self-employment. The findings of this research will be published in autumn 2015.