New free guide launches to help people deal with their debts

The Money Advice Trust has today launched its revamped ‘How to deal with debt’ guide for England and Wales. The guide takes people in debt through the steps they need to take to deal with their financial situation from start to finish and draws on behavioural science techniques to keep users engaged and motivated throughout the process.

Developed alongside the Money and Pensions Service, who funded the project, and Ogilvy Consulting Behavioural Science Practice, the new guide builds on the Trust’s experience of producing materials and resources for people in debt who want to self-help.

The ‘Dealing with debt guide’, now on its 22nd edition, is a valued advice sector resource. Last year over 100,000 people used the guide via National Debtline and advice agencies, who make it available to the people they help.

The new version brings together learning and feedback from both Ogilvy Consulting Behavioural Science Practice and comprehensive user-testing with advice agencies and people in debt, undertaken with the Money and Pensions Service. This insight shaped the design, tone, layout, and language used in the guide to maximise the chances of users taking the right action to deal with their debts.

Insight from behavioural science

In addition to the need for accurate and correct advice, this new edition of the guide acknowledges that being in debt is often a difficult situation and recognises the emotions people may be experiencing. The tone and language used is carefully considered and uses positive encouragement throughout .It is broken down into three clear steps to make the overall goal feel more achievable and uses techniques such as ‘chunking’, which breaks information into smaller, more manageable individual tasks.

A free resource for the advice sector

The guide is available for free to advice agencies in England and Wales. It is designed so it can be used effectively on its own as it provides the action and advice someone in debt needs to take. It can also be used as part of existing advice processes with the aim of putting the person using the guide in the best position to deal with their debts.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “Last year over 100,000 people used our ‘Dealing with debt guide’. We know that for many people dealing with their debt is a challenging and emotional process. Providing accurate and engaging material to help people through this journey is therefore crucial.

“In redesigning the guide we have drawn on our thirty years’ experience of producing materials for people in debt and expert knowledge on what galvanises people to engage.

“This new guide aims to maximise the chances of users taking the right action to deal with their debts. We are delighted to have worked with the Money and Pensions Service and Ogilvy Consulting Behavioural Science Practice in producing a resource that we hope resonates with people in debt and inspires them to take action.”

Caroline Siarkiewicz, director and debt advice expert at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “We fully support the enhancements to the Money Advice Trust’s guide ‘How to deal with debt’. It’s really important that people who want to manage their debts themselves have access to the right guidance and support to do this well.

“This new guide will also supplement the advice given by debt advice agencies to consumers.”

Jordan Buck, consultant, Ogilvy Consulting Behavioural Science Practice, said: “We’re extremely proud to have worked alongside Money Advice Trust and the Money and Pensions Service in the development of this newly-designed guide, applying and implementing a wide array of Behavioural Science techniques to make it more behaviourally motivating and to empower readers to successfully deal with their debts.

“This integration of Behavioural Science to create a debt guide which is as useful, engaging and effective as possible is an innovative approach, and one which we are confident will lead to improved outcomes for people struggling with problem debt.

“It’s been an extremely exciting challenge to be involved in, and one with the potential to have an enormous positive impact on people’s lives.”