Money Advice Trust responds to ‘Financial Wellbeing and Covid’ report

The Money Advice Trust has welcomed today’s report on ‘Building the UK’s financial wellbeing in the light of Covid-19’.

The report from the chairs for the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing outlines 13 urgent recommendations to address the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on financial wellbeing. Recommendations include:

  • Urging financial service firms to waive interest for people in serious financial difficulty.
  • Progressing the design and piloting of a no-interest loans scheme.
  • Maintaining and extending the relief measures put in place to help people on benefits and whose finances have been made worse by the outbreak.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “Millions of households were already in financial difficulty going into Covid-19, and many more are now walking a financial tight-rope. Today’s report helpfully outlines a range of challenges people are facing and the scale of support needed to prevent people being pushed into or further into difficulty in the coming months.

“The report’s recommendation to the government to maintain and extend the benefit relief measures is welcome and follows ours and others calls to extend changes to Universal Credit by retaining the £20 a week increase beyond April. A stronger focus on supporting people in vulnerable circumstances and promoting the government’s ‘Help to Save’ scheme to anyone newly eligible due to the outbreak are also crucial.

“Alongside these measures, we also need to develop safer routes out of debt for those who do fall behind, and to ensure that creditors aren’t making the situation worse. One major priority here must be improving government’s own debt collection practices – which often lag behind best practice in the private sector.

“We need a new Government Debt Management Bill to bring fairness to debt collection across central and local government – as well as fundamental reform of the way that bailiffs are used to enforce debts.”