The Money Advice Service has created a strategic toolkit to improve creditor best practice for people in arrears. Entitled Working collaboratively with debt advice agencies, the document should create consistency between creditors to ensure best practice prevails and that customers are treated fairly.
It’s a comprehensive document designed to benefit both creditors and debtors. Hopefully, it will lead to closer links between debt advice agencies and creditors. And this should ensure more support for customers who are struggling.
Let’s take a look at what the Money Advice Service toolkit covers and how it can help.
How the Money Advice Service toolkit can help
According to the Money Advice Service toolkit, creditors who work directly with debt advice providers achieve fairer outcomes for customers and better customer engagement. It also makes for more sustainable solutions in which customers are less likely to fall behind with payments, having had access to debt advice.
One case study showed British Gas customers who were also StepChange customers. It found that 97% of clients remained up-to-date with payments after seeking advice and they were less likely to go into arrears. And when they did fall behind, they would owe less on average.
The report also suggests seven steps for creditors to work more closely with debt advice providers. These guidelines can help make sure they’re doing the right thing for customers.
These steps are:
- tracking how debt advice can benefit customers,
- using the Standard Financial Statement when assessing a customer’s affordability,
- signposting appropriate customers towards relevant debt advice services,
- getting an overview of what happens to customers after debt advice,
- having daily contact with debt advice providers,
- targeting specific customers for debt advice intervention, and
- following the Money Advice Service guidelines for ‘Supportive Creditor Standards’.
The toolkit also discusses how the Standard Financial Statement should help improve customer outcomes. It means that creditors and debt advice agencies are able to assess customer affordability more consistently. Creditors can also accurately work out whether to lend to a customer or not and debt advice agencies can create sustainable, resilient solutions.
When the Standard Financial Statement rolls out across the industry in April 2018, we should see creditors start to work towards the same standards – and this should help customers to avoid taking on debt they can’t afford.
You can take a look at the Money Advice Service toolkit in full here: