Enhanced debt advice services will help 440,000 people over next three years

The Money Advice Trust has today announced major enhancements to its National Debtline and Business Debtline services, as the charity’s new contracts with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) go live.  National Debtline and Business Debtline – which offer free, independent and confidential debt advice by phone, webchat and online – will help 440,000 people in England over the next three years through the new contracts, which enable significant investment in both services.

The move comes as the rising cost of living continues to take its toll on household finances.  New research shows two in three National Debtline callers (66%) have had to forego buying essential items in the last six months – up from 49% a year ago – with 62% being concerned they will be unable to pay their energy bills in the next six months, up from 47% last year.

The National Debtline Partnership will offer a telephone casework service to National Debtline clients for the first time, provided by Citizens Advice and Mental Health UK’s Mental Health & Money Advice service.  Meanwhile, Business Debtline – the UK’s only free dedicated debt advice services for small business owners – will act as the new national Centre of Excellence in business debt, including through a new online AdviserHub.

Both services will see significant improvements for people in financial difficulty, including improved digital tools to support a full debt advice journey, with adviser support available throughout.  New partnerships will pro-actively engage hard-to-reach groups who may not otherwise seek free debt advice, with additional onward referral partnerships to help meet the wider needs of people seeking advice.

The service enhancements will be rolled out over the next three years and complement the work that National Debtline and Business Debtline carries out in partnership with a wide range of other bodies – including the Scottish Government, Welsh Government and a large number of organisations across the credit industry and beyond.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “With the cost of living crisis continuing to bite, it has never been more important to help people tackle their debts and manage money with confidence.  After more than 30 years of doing just that, we are thrilled to be rolling out major enhancements to our National Debtline and Business Debtline services in the years ahead.

“We are particularly pleased to be working in partnership with Citizens Advice and Mental Health UK to offer casework to those National Debtline clients who need it – and developing improved digital tools that will improve the way that both National Debtline and Business Debtline helps people in financial difficulty.

“These enhancements and the vital services that National Debtline and Business Debtline provide would not be possible without the support of our many long-standing funders and partner organisations.  We look forward to keeping all of our many partners updated as we roll out these changes – and to working together to do even more to raise awareness of the life-changing difference that debt advice makes to thousands of people every day.”

Caroline Siarkiewicz, chief executive of the Money and Pensions Service, said: “Debt advice transforms lives and we’re delighted to be working with the Money Advice Trust to reach those who so desperately need help.  This move will give people the support they need to look at their options, make informed decisions and regain control of their finances, meaning thousands more can escape the distress that debt can cause.

“With more and more people expected to need debt advice in the coming months and years, vital partnerships like this will make a massive difference during the difficult times ahead.”