Money and Pensions Service announces intention to award contracts for national and business debt advice services and the administration of debt relief orders in England

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Today, the Money and Pensions Service is announcing the outcome of its debt advice commissioning process for England, through which it is providing more comprehensive debt advice services for many more people. 

Following a thorough and detailed evaluation of all the bids received, MaPS is pleased to announce that it intends – subject to the conclusion of the mandatory ten-day standstill period – to award contracts to the following organisations to provide national and business debt advice, and administration of debt relief orders (DROs). These three-year contracts will be signed after the conclusion of the standstill period and will be effective from 1 February 2023.

National debt advice services:

  • Gregory Pennington Limited
  • The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux
  • Money Advice Trust.

Business debt advice services:

  • Money Advice Trust.

Administration of debt relief orders (DROs):

  • Gregory Pennington Limited
  • The National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux.

MaPS currently funds debt advice for around 240,000 people via telephone, digital, business debt and DRO unit services. In year one of the newly commissioned services, MaPS expects to see a 65% increase in capacity and that, by year three, these services will have the capacity to support more than 650,000 people.  

In addition to these new contracts, our community-based debt advice services, including face-to-face provision, will be maintained through 26-month grants announced on 29 September 2022.  

Once the new contracts and the grants are live, MaPS will be investing £76m per year into debt advice services. This is an 80% increase compared with 2019. Our newly commissioned services will provide a seamless and comprehensive offer for many more people needing debt advice, including greater capacity for complex cases and for those clients who require additional support. As well as a greater focus on income maximisation and increased outreach for those who need help, our new services will enable a greater use of multi-channel advice, making best use of improved technology. 

Our new services will prioritise adviser wellbeing and aim to improve adviser retention and recruitment, recognising the crucial role they perform. The new three-year contract arrangements also provide greater certainty and sustainability for our funded advice organisations and for debt advisers, replacing the legacy system of 12-month grant agreements. This will enable better forward planning and greater investment in services to drive better outcomes for clients.

MaPS Chief Executive Officer, Caroline Siarkiewicz, said: 

"We know that debt advice works and has a transformative impact on people’s lives. This is why I am delighted that through these new contracts, working alongside ongoing community-based debt advice services, we will be able to provide more expert, free of charge debt advice than ever before.   

"Our funding envelope for debt advice in England has increased to £76 million – 80% more than pre-pandemic – but we have a big challenge to meet. We know that the number of people needing debt advice will increase over the months and years ahead, so taking a different approach to how we commission debt advice was essential. 

"As we go forward, our collective focus will remain on the people who need our help: supporting a seamless transition for those already partway through their debt advice journey, and that anyone beginning to struggle with bills and payments knows that expert help is available to them. And we’ll support both our existing and our new suppliers to make sure that advisers are supported through this transition. 

"I would like to thank all of the organisations who have participated in this commissioning process. We recognise the considerable time and effort this takes. All of these organisations, as well as others we have funded in the past, continue to provide excellent debt advice and help many people, and remain invaluable stakeholders for MaPS."

MaPS now enters a ten-day, legally mandated “standstill”. After this concludes, MaPS will contract with successful bidders and the implementation process begins. 

Following the conclusion of the standstill period, MaPS will follow up with any bidders who were unsuccessful on this occasion to provide further feedback on their bids and ensure that they are well positioned for any future bids. 

As commissioning moves forward to the next phase, MaPS will support all providers as they work to ensure continuity for existing debt advice clients and to explore how the unique experience and expertise of debt advisers can be retained within the sector. 

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Notes to editors

  • National debt advice suppliers will provide support to individuals throughout England who are experiencing problem debt.  Services will be offered primarily through telephone and digital channels and have been designed to meet the needs of vulnerable customers. 
  • Business debt advice services will provide similar support to sole traders and small businesses owners where their personal finances are impacted.  A business debt centre of excellence will also be established to provide support and information to the wider sector. 
  • The Debt Relief Order (DRO) administration hubs will accept client referrals from debt advice providers who have identified a DRO as the best debt solution for a person who has received debt advice.  These efficient hubs will expedite the processing of the client’s DRO. 
  • Community-based debt advice services are delivered in community settings such as high streets, other local centres and via outreach. These services are typically offered entirely or partially in-person; although many community-based organisations use a range of delivery models to provide debt advice and engage people. MaPS announced on 29 September 2022 that it would be offering 26-month grants, effective from 1 February 2023, to existing providers. 
  • The standstill period is a legal requirement for public sector procurement. It provides a short ten-day pause between the notification of a decision to bidders and the final conclusion of a contract, during which time bidders may challenge a decision. Standstill starts on the day after the decision is communicated to bidders and ends at midnight on the tenth day following notification of a decision. 
  • You can read more about the government’s Cost of Living support on the Help with the cost of livingOpens in a new window

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