Money and Pensions Service signs contracts for national and business debt advice services and the administration of Debt relief orders in England

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Today, as part of its £76m per year investment into debt advice services in England, the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is pleased to announce the signature of contracts with the following organisations to provide national and business debt advice, and the administration of debt relief orders (DROs).

These three-year contracts have been signed after the successful 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.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Chief Executive of the Money and Pensions Service, said:

“We know that debt advice can make a real difference to the individuals who receive it and that is why I am delighted to announce the signing of these new contracts. This is an important milestone to help more people get the free debt advice they need.

“These new three-year contract arrangements 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 increase the capacity for forward planning and greater investment in services to drive better outcomes. Together with our community-based services this will allow us to reach more people when they need support, in a way that is easiest for them, which means we can make a real difference to more people.”

Dame Clare Moriarty, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“As the cost-of-living crisis deepens, our debt advice has had a huge impact on people’s lives. In the last year, we helped 89,000 people across local offices, 83,000 people via our national debt helpline and 52,000 people on webchat to get the advice they needed to deal with their debts.

“We’re pleased to be able to continue providing vital debt advice through this funding which, over the next three years, will enable us to support hundreds of thousands of people and ultimately, help them find a way”

Joanna Elson CBE, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:

“With cost of living pressures hitting more and more households across the country, it has never been more important to make sure free, expert debt advice is available to everyone who needs it. We are pleased to be able to continue to provide life-changing debt advice at both National Debtline and Business Debtline to help meet this goal – and look forward to working with the Money and Pensions Service and our many partners to evolve our services in the years ahead.”

Ian Somerset, CEO of Money Wellness, said:

“We are proud to have been awarded the important responsibility of providing much needed capacity for free debt advice and DRO administration. This will be delivered by the Money Wellness brand underpinned by Gregory Pennington’s platform, which has enabled us to provide free debt advice in the UK for three decades.

“We understand these are difficult times for households and we welcome the opportunity to provide our support by delivering free, high quality, impartial debt advice and ongoing support.

“We look forward to working with the Money and Pensions Service and the wider sector to help individuals resolve their money worries and improve their financial wellbeing.”

Debt advice

Today, as we announce new partnerships and funding across the debt advice sector, we would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate our commitment to our important existing partners and services. One of these is StepChange, which will continue to play a vital role in delivering debt advice, solution servicing and wider support as we work together to increase capacity, particularly as millions of households face increasing cost-of-living pressure.

We recognise the expertise and commitment of their adviser workforce in delivering our shared priority of helping people receive life-changing debt advice. Over the coming years, StepChange will remain a key strategic partner in the sector and a valued member of our MaPS Advisory Group to the Board and Debt Advice Reference Group, amongst other cross-sector initiatives. We look forward to continuing to work with them on this basis, and hope to work with them on exciting new opportunities and projects as and when they arise.

We have full confidence in the services they offer and the outcomes they achieve for their clients and, as we do now, will continue to refer clients to them through our MoneyHelper services and our digital debt advice locator tool.

In addition to these new three-year 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 grants are live, MaPS will be investing £76m per year into debt advice services. This is an almost 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.

MaPS would like thank all of the organisations who have participated in this commissioning process. We recognise the considerable time and effort taken. 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.

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. 
  • You can read more about the government’s Cost of Living support on the Help with the cost of living pageOpens in a new window

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