Press release: Money Advice Service commits over £30 million to fund delivery of free debt advice

11 April 2013

Today the Money Advice Service announces over £30 million to fund the delivery of free debt advice across the UK in 2013/14. The largest funding agreement is with Citizens Advice - £23m will be allocated to fund its debt advice projects in England and Wales (the same amount allocated in 2012/13).

England and Wales The Service has signed grant agreements worth over £26 million with six lead debt advice partners in England and Wales: Citizens Advice, including Citizens Advice Cymru, Capitalise, Community Finance Solutions, Greater Merseyside Money Advice Partnership, Bristol Debt Advice Centre and East Midlands Money Advice. Overall, during 2013/14, 150,000 people will benefit from free debt advice provided by the partners.

Scotland The Service will allocate £2.35m to fund the delivery of debt advice through a partnership with the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB). This funding builds on the Service’s existing partnership with SLAB, and it will finance new projects to help groups of over-indebted people in Scotland including those who face barriers to accessing help to deal with their debts, such as: people with complex mental health needs, physical disabilities, and those experiencing domestic abuse. In addition, the Service will commit £350,000 to other projects in Scotland, including a pilot to integrate financial capability support into insolvency practices.

Northern Ireland The Service will commit almost £800,000 to extend its partnership with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment in order to continue advice delivered by Advice NI last year.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Head of the Money Advice Service’s Debt Advice programme, said; “In a time of turbulence in the debt advice sector, when many organisations are withdrawing or cutting-back funding, we are proud to continue our support for the essential services provided by our debt advice partners. We know that the services we fund make a huge difference to the lives of over indebted people. We want to thank our partners who have worked tirelessly with us over the last year and we look forward to continuing our work together this year.”

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said; “As pay freezes, benefit cuts and price rises wreak havoc on household budgets, we’re expecting to see many more people who need support dealing with debt. Citizens Advice Bureaux helped with over two million debt problems last year, and this funding means we can continue to giving our expert advice to help tackle money problems.”

Lindsay Montgomery, Chief Executive of Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB), said; “We are delighted to have been asked once again by the Money Advice Service to allocate this significant amount of funding through a partnership grants programme. We very much welcome this opportunity to build upon the success of our existing grants programme by establishing a new programme to improve support for people across Scotland who need specialist help to deal with debt issues.”

In addition to the £30.6 million funding for debt advice projects, £3.8m is being allocated to the Money Advice Service’s work to co-ordinate and improve quality and consistency across the debt advice sector, including projects focussed on data management, evaluation, standards and triage.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Money Advice Service is grant funding the following partners for the second year in a row: Citizens Advice, Capitalise, Community Finance Solutions, Greater Merseyside Money Advice Partnership, Bristol Debt Advice Centre and East Midlands Money Advice. 2013/14 will also be the second year during which the Service has worked with SLAB and Advice NI.

2. £23m will go to projects run by Citizens Advice, £18m through the Service’s grant agreement with Citizens Advice, and the remainder through projects funded through the Service’s other lead debt advice partners.

3. The Service’s Business Plan for 2013/14, published in March, stated that its debt advice delivery partners were on-track to deliver almost 175,000 sessions across the UK in 2012/13. Final performance figures for 2012/13 will be published shortly.

4. The partners which the Service funds are succeeding in delivering positive outcomes for clients at the same time as increasing the number of sessions provided. An independent evaluation by Optimisa of their service delivery in England and Wales found that over 90% of clients took action to address their over-indebtedness after receiving advice.

5. Full details of the Service’s budget for debt advice in 2013/14 are set out in its Business Plan 2013/14- see www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/static/the-money-advice-service-business-plan-2013-14.

ENDS

About the Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service is an independent organisation. Set up by Government to help people make the most of their money, it gives free, unbiased money advice across the UK – online, over the phone and face to face. The Service is paid for by a statutory levy on the financial services industry, raised by the Financial Conduct Authority. Its statutory objectives are to enhance the understanding and knowledge of members of the public about financial matters (including the UK financial system), and to enhance the ability of members of the public to manage their own financial affairs. The Service has an independent Chairman and board appointed by the Financial Conduct Authority. It was formerly the Consumer Financial Education Body.

For more information contact: Money Advice Service: 020 7943 0593 / pressoffice@moneyadviceservice.org.uk