How are you doing? The changeable weather has taken a toll on me this month. The rainstorms have been so heavy that my house ended up flooding. On the plus side, my allotment needed some rain. My plants are doing great now with crops of spring onions, garlic, lettuce and strawberries ready to harvest. Sophie’s weeds are also thriving!
I have now helped many Money Advice Group organisers host a virtual meeting. They have gone really well with some very interesting speakers and conversations. It’s looking like the next quarter’s meetings will also be online. What do you want to get from these meetings? What speakers or topics would you like to see. Please let your organiser know your thoughts in the discussion forums.
Many advisers that have attended the MAG meetings have voiced their worries that this is the calm before the storm, and that they are expecting a debt advice tsunami by the end of the year. It seems that many “usual” clients are now not seeking advice or answering their phones to advisers, and neither are there many new clients yet. With enforcement action suspended and payment holidays being granted this isn’t unexpected. However, lockdown is starting to ease. Enforcement by bailiffs will likely re-commence in August and payment holidays will start coming to a close towards October. Advice providers are looking at how their advice provision can be adapted to deal with higher number of debt cases post-Covid.
Stepchange has been looking at the different types of client that we may start to see. Those who have fallen into a small amount of debt due to furlough or loss of work during lockdown. But who may only need a short forbearance to get back on their feet. There are those who were just about juggling their debts before the pandemic but their situation has now worsened, plunging them into unmanageable debt for the first time. Those who were already managing debt plans, now may not have the disposable income to keep their plans going.
For years, debt advisers have been discussing how, if creditors were more supportive in their debt collection practices, they may be more effective. Is this now the right time to look at the processes of debt collection? As debt advisers we know that a small debt that would be manageable to be repaid over a fairly short period with a little forbearance, can quickly escalate with interest and charges rendering the debt unmanageable. Could an earlier and more proactive intervention make all the difference? Grace Brownfield at the Money Advice Trust looks at Council Tax.
In many of the money advice groups we have been talking about how we are feeling about working from home, what works well and what doesn’t. Many advisers have adapted and are carrying out interviews via telephone or apps such a Teams. There have been some difficulties with obtaining documents but on the whole many interviews have worked well. Some advisers are deeply worried though that the more vulnerable clients are not getting the help that is needed. May from PayPlan has considered if videocall interviews are the future.
In other blogs:
The pandemic has shone a light on how well that we, as a society, treat our most vulnerable. The amount of money that people are expected to live on is one of them. The fact that one group of benefit claimants received an uplift during the pandemic whilst other claimants didn’t, caused a few furrowed brows. Ella Abraham at Z2K wonders if one group is somehow more worthy than the other or if there’s an issue of discrimination.
The state of our housing is another area that has been highlighted, including the level of help that we give to our millions of renters. We have all seen the signs in windows and in adverts “No DSS” but it seems that a new form of discrimination is taking place, with landlords refusing to house those that have to switch to Universal Credit.
Have you read any good blogs recently? Let us know in our discussion forum.
In other news
The IMA has hosted several webinars that attracted CPD points. If you missed the webinars, the recordings will be available soon on our website.
All the very best to everyone. More blogs next month.