Allocation and use of the Debt Levy within the Scottish Government: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

  1. The total debt levy allocation to Scotland as a sum of money in 2022/23 and 2023/24.
  2. The organisations in Scotland that have been allocated debt levy funding for 2023/24 with a breakdown of the respective awards of funding to each organisation.
  3. The Scottish Minister who approved this allocation of funding, the timeline for this decision and whether any meetings with organisations who will be funded in 2023/24 took place as part of this decision.
  4. In relation to the Debt Advice Journey Programme ("DAJP", funded by the debt levy allocation to Scotland and administered by the Scottish Legal Aid Board for 2021/22 and 2022/23) can you please confirm which Scottish Minister agreed/approved to terminate this funding stream as at 31 March 2023?
  5. In relation to question 4 above, did the Scottish Ministers (a) give any consideration to the impact termination of the DAJP would have on free debt advice services provided by local community based advice agencies in Scotland? (b) in particular, the impact termination of the DAJP would have on the provision of free local debt advice services in the Scottish Parliamentary Glasgow constituencies of Greater Pollok and Southside Central? and (c) was an Equality Impact Assessment in relation to this decision undertaken?
  6. The date when the Scottish Ministers first received the evaluation report of the DAJP from The Improvement Service ("TIS"); how long the Scottish Ministers have been in receipt of the TIS report; whether the Scottish Ministers requested any change  to the TIS report and if so please provide a summary of any material changes; and the date the Scottish Ministers intend to make this report available to the public.


  1. The sum allocated to Scotland from the Debt Levy for 2022-23 was £6,527,200. The calculation used to determine the proportion of the Debt Advice Levy allocated to devolved nations is based on a debt needs survey carried out by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). The Levy is distributed to the Scottish Government by HM Treasury. At the time of writing, we have not been authorised by HM Treasury to disclose the amount to be allocated to for 2023-24 as it remains subject to UK Government Ministerial approval.
  2. No organisation has been granted debt advice levy funding for 2023/24 at the time of writing. When allocations are confirmed, the information will be published on the Scottish Government website.
  3. The responsibility for the allocation of the Debt Advice Levy sits with the Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government’s portfolio. A range of organisations including those that received funding from the Debt Levy in 2022/23 were invited to submit proposals for funding in 2023/24. Officials met with one organisation who were invited to submit a proposal to discuss this.
  4. The Debt Advice Journey Programme (“DAJP”) was a three-year funded programme that began in 2020 to test new ways of working to improve the debt advice journey for clients seeking free debt advice. Therefore, no Minister made a decision to terminate the funding as this was a programme that was always due to end in March 2023. The programme was managed by the Scottish Legal Aid Board (SLAB) on behalf of the Scottish Government. Communications from SLAB were sent to all DAJP projects on 16 December 2022 reminding them that the DAJP was a time-limited programme and that all projects should plan for exit. Exit was confirmed by email from SLAB to projects on 22 February 2023.
  5. As this programme was time-limited from the outset and was always intended to end after three years, no assessments in relation to a), b) or c) were carried out.
  6. Following the devolution of the Debt Advice Levy in 2019 the Scottish Government commissioned the Improvement Service to undertake a series of consultation events and research in relation to potential funding models for the distribution of the Levy. The DAJP programme represented a model of Levy funding that tested change and innovation and also represented a model of a Grant Programme managed by an independent organisation (SLAB). This work was significantly delayed and impacted by the Covid pandemic and as a result the final draft report on funding models was received by Scottish Government officials in mid-October 2022. Scottish Ministers have not seen this report as it is still in draft format, therefore they have not requested any changes. The final report is due to be published by the Improvement Service on its website within the next few weeks. The Scottish Government understands that the Improvement Service also plans to publish separate, shorter reports that focus on some of the individual models, such as the models represented by the DAJP.

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