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Updated guidelines on mental health and debt PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Money Advice Liaison Group (MALG) has today published its updated guidelines on mental health and debt.

The Good Practice Awareness Guidelines for Helping Consumers with Mental Health and Debt, now in their third edition, are designed to assist creditors, local authorities, debt collection companies, enforcement agents, advisers and all people working with those experiencing mental health conditions and debt, where their condition affects their ability to manage money.
 
The Guidelines, first published in 2007 and updated in 2009, have been produced by a small Working Team working under the umbrella of the MALG Mental Health Working Party, made up of representatives from the advice sector, creditors and the mental health profession, with particular assistance from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
 
The document demonstrates good practice in the management of debt when a consumer with a mental health condition is in financial difficulty.  They cover key topics including business procedures, staff training, collaboration between creditors, advice agencies and health and social care professionals, court action and taking account of disability benefits in repayment plans.
 
Anthony Sharp, Chair of the Money Advice Liaison Group, said:
 
“In the eight years since the first edition of the Guidelines were published, we have been delighted to see them become used by an increasing range of organisations on an entirely voluntary basis – and that they are now recognised in the FCA’s Consumer Credit Sourcebook.
 
“I commend these valuable Guidelines and sincerely hope they will continue to improve understanding and communication amongst all parties involved with individuals who are experiencing mental health conditions and debt.”
 
Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust and chair of the MALG Mental Health Working Party, added:
 
“Experts indicate that one in four adults will experience a mental health issue in any one year and that over 10 million people in the UK experience some form of mental illness.  It is therefore not surprising that a proportion of those in debt come from this group – in fact it would be surprising if they did not.
 
“At a time when there is a renewed focus on the treatment of vulnerable consumers in financial services and other sectors, I hope these updated guidelines on mental health and debt will continue to help move this important agenda forward.”
 
The 14 Guidelines cover;
 
1.   Treating consumers with mental health conditions fairly
2.   Staff training
3.   Joined-up working
4.    Data protection procedures
5.    Referral mechanisms
6.    Procedures when creditors outsource debts
7.    How much evidence is needed
8.    Time to collect evidence of mental health
9.    Who should provide evidence
10. How to deal with charging for evidence
11. Using a common financial tool
12. How to treat benefits when assessing disposable income
13. When to consider ‘writing off’ debts
14. Taking court action as a last resort
 
The full guidelines are available online at www.malg.org.uk

(Source - MALG Press Release)
 

 
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