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Indebtedness in London – The Future of Debt Advice

Published: 9 Sep 2014


On Tuesday 9th September Toynbee Hall hosted over 35 different agencies, funders and councils from across Greater London for an afternoon of discussion and informative talks about debt provision in London. With 68% of clients taking positive action afterward seeing a debt advisor suggesting that furthering and progressing the future of debt advice is more important than ever.

A key funder in debt advice is the Money Advice Service (MAS) who recently announced an unprecedented three-year funding commitment with their delivery partners to help indebted people. As MAS’ lead partner in London, Toynbee Hall, wanted to create a space to discuss the complexities of debt, reduce unnecessary duplication and learn from innovative projects.

The first speaker was Caroline Siarkiewicz, Head of UK Debt Advice Programme at Money Advice Service (MAS) who started by stressing that no one organisation can deliver all the debt advice that is needed across London. With an estimated 9 million people now categorised as being over-indebted across the UK, debt agencies and funders need to work together to help the whole.

The next section of the programme focussed on innovative approaches and practices happening in London to tackle indebtedness. Grace Hussey, Head of Income Collection & Debt Coalition at Islington Council, showed how the council has been forward thinking creating an ‘over-arching debt management system’ aimed at helping residents. Mick McAteer, from The Financial Inclusion Centre, outlined a pilot with the London Mutual Credit Union to provide affordable payday loan alternatives. The final thoughts came from Graham Fisher, Chief Executive of Toynbee Hall and a Tower Hamlets Fairness Commissioner. He outlined Money Mentors, a community project that acts as gateway for giving money advice and sign-posting to other services.

After hearing about pioneering approaches to debt, attendees took part in an ‘Open Space’ discussion: How can funders add value to MAS’ own work in London? Led by Sian Williams, Head of National Solutions at Toynbee Hall, over 10 topics were discussed as possible ideas and a number of recommendations on how they could be achieved were put forward. These discussion points and ideas have been shared and distributed and will encourage and inform further collaboration and learning.