Tackling problem debt advice: routemap

Sets out our vision for a user-centred, collaborative and sustainable free debt advice system in Scotland.

The vision

The Scottish Government recognises that much of what we propose is already happening to varying degrees and in varying locations across Scotland. Our aim in creating this routemap is to support this good practice, while helping to overcome some of the challenges that prevent wider adoption. We also recognise that our vision is not revolutionary – these have been the goals of funders, providers and users for many years. We have set it out here to challenge ourselves and the sector to take the steps necessary to bring that vision closer.

Our vision is for a free debt advice system that is:

  • User-centred – free debt advice must focus on responding to the needs of those who seek it. And while quality of service and availability should, as far as practicable, be comparable across Scotland, it should reflect the differing circumstances of communities and user groups, and allow them to make choices that are right for them on how and where to seek help.
  • Collaborative – the free debt advice sector consists of many advice providers and funders. It is important that the expertise of each is recognised, as is the value of overlapping services where these reach different communities or groups. However, we must also recognise that user needs can be well-served by more joined up services, where users can easily be referred from one provider to another. Sharing expertise can also reduce costs and workloads for advisers, leading to better morale and service provision.
  • Sustainable – a free debt advice service must have a range and breadth of providers supported by adequate funding to allow them to survive. In turn, these advisers must have the requisite staff and expertise to provide a high quality service to support users. Both goals require investment that finds the balance between supporting immediate service needs, and developing services for the future.

The parts of this vision are integrally linked – a user-centred system requires a sustainable workforce and certainty about future funding, and a collaborative workforce is more likely to reduce staff burdens. Therefore, achieving one should support achieving the rest. Below, we set out the actions the Scottish Government will take in each area.


Email: andrew.mcconnell@gov.scot

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