Ministry of Justice announces new call for evidence on bailiff reform

Taking Control crop blogJane Tully, director of external affairs at the Money Advice Trust, welcomes the government’s announcement of a new call for evidence on the impact of bailiff action on people in debt. The move follows the advice sector’s Taking Control campaign for fundamental bailiff reform.

A little over a year ago, the debt advice sector came together to publish Taking Control: The need for fundamental bailiff reform – a joint report now endorsed by a group of 10 charities on the experiences of our clients since some limited bailiff reforms came into effect in April 2014. Since then we have been working with stakeholders to explore the report’s findings and recommendations.

Monday saw some welcome Bank Holiday news from the Ministry of Justice, with Justice Minister Lucy Frazer announcing a new call for evidence on the impact of bailiff reform, looking specifically at the behaviour of a minority of bailiffs.

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Using the BRUCE protocol to identify and support customers with mental capacity limitations

BRUCE iconThe Money Advice Trust’s vulnerability lead Chris Fitch looks at the practice of identifying and supporting customers with mental capacity limitations, and how the Trust’s new e-learning can help.

Lenders have a lot to deal with when it comes to supporting customers in vulnerable circumstances. In many cases frontline staff can come across customers who might exhibit a mental capacity limitation.

As highlighted by our latest guide, ‘Lending and vulnerability: an introductory guide to mental capacity’, customers with mental capacity limitations can experience significant problems with understanding, remembering, and evaluating information about the credit product they are applying for, as well as other difficulties in communicating their decision.

Recent research from the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre, supported by the Finance & Leasing Association and UK Cards Association, found that frontline credit staff encountered customers with a serious difficulty in understanding information (one of four elements in a potential mental capacity limitation) 480 times in a single year (based on a team of 10 frontline staff).

These numbers are important to note because when not identified, mental capacity limitations can result in detriment including borrowing, lending and contracts that result in ‘later downstream’ financial difficulty and problem debt.

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Guest blog post from Mencap Liverpool: an update on the #EasyMoney project

Charlotte Crowder Mencap LiverpoolMencap Liverpool are a small independent charity who work with adults who have a mild learning disability. In 2017-18 they were one of three recipients of the Money Advice Trust’s Innovation Grants. With their members, they are co-producing an eight-week workshop series and a set of Easy Read factsheets. Charlotte Crowder is the #EasyMoney project co-ordinator and here gives an overview of the project.

What is Easy Money?

Easy Money is a financial literacy workshop programme we are developing, utilising Easy Read resources to support people who have a mild learning disability and who may also be on the Autism Spectrum. The workshops are aimed at those who are living independently and who are managing all of their finances – helping them tackle their debts and improve their financial health.

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Self-negotiators: the experiences of people in debt who negotiate with their creditors

Richard 2In this guest post, Professor Sharon Collard and Sara Davies from the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre introduce research into the experiences of people in debt who negotiate with their creditors.

This blog post sets out some key findings from research that explored the experiences of people who face difficulties repaying what they owe, when they attempt to negotiate with their creditors after receiving professional help from National Debtline, and in a few cases, from another free-to-client debt advice service. We call these people ‘self-negotiators’ for short. The study was funded by the Money Advice Trust and the Money Advice Service.

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Clients in vulnerable situations: learning from the experiences of frontline debt advisers

Sharon Collard Feb 2017In this guest post, Professor Sharon Collard and Jamie Evans from the University of Bristol’s Personal Finance Research Centre introduce a new nationwide study of debt advisers’ experiences of working with clients in particularly vulnerable situations.

For debt advisers on the front line, we know that supporting clients in vulnerable situations can be challenging. But, at present, we don’t know enough about the scale of the challenge and the types of guidance, training and support that advisers themselves feel they would benefit from.

So today – in partnership with the Money Advice Trust and the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute and with funding from the Money Advice Service – we have launched a major new survey looking at UK debt advisers’ experiences of supporting their most vulnerable clients.

Debt and ‘vulnerability’ are often found together

We know from our previous research that financial difficulty and vulnerable situations often go hand-in-hand. From our survey of debt collection staff we estimated that workers in large debt collection firms deal with the disclosure of a serious suicide risk every three days.

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