Tackling Problem Debt Group minutes: February 2019

Minutes from the fifth meeting of Tackling Problem Debt Group, held on 1 February 2019.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lorraine King, Scottish Government, CCPU (Chair)
  • Allison Barnes, Money Advice Service
  • Sharon Bell, StepChange
  • David Brownlee, Citizens Advice Service
  • Karen Hurst, ABCUL
  • Yvonne MacDermid, Money Advice Scotland
  • Alex Reid, Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • Sandra Sankey, Improvement Service
  • Hazel Thoms, Scottish Legal Aid Board
  • Laura McGlynn, Scottish Government, CCPU
  • Andrew McConnell, Scottish Government, CCPU (Secretariat)


  • Alistair Chisholm, PayPlan
  • Maggie Craig, FCA


  • Karen Grieve, Scottish Government, Fairer Scotland Team
  • Helen McCabe, Cemvo Scotland
  • Michael McClements, COSLA
  • Angus McIntosh, Castlemilk Law Centre
  • Sharon MacPherson, Scotcash
  • Laura Sexton, Scottish Government, Access to Justice Unit

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction

The Chair welcomed the attendees and thanked them for attending the fifth meeting of the Tackling Problem Debt Group.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were agreed.

Sustainable funding

Proposals around creating a statutory debt solution levy were discussed as was the AiB consultation on the review of the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS).  The details of the recent DAS consultation were explained and in particular the potential for revised payment distribution and payment arrangements to provide additional funds for the free advice sector.  A blanket levy would represent a significant shift and would require wider consultation given its implications for creditors and in the short term the DAS proposals, if accepted, provided an opportunity to generate some additional financial support for advice services.

In addition, general issues raised in the discussion included:

  • a variety of sources of funding is good for the health of the debt advice sector
  • need to understand what level of funding is needed in Scotland – what is the demand and the cost of that demand
  • debt levy was increased temporarily after Wyman Review – future reduction in levy will need to be planned for
  • channel shift can increase number of people reached but may need to be done incrementally to be effective
  • focus on financial wellbeing within workplaces could help reduce problem debt issues
  • need to ensure no overlap in debt advice funding
  • creation of an overarching strategy would provide information on the extent of problem debt and current funders of advice
  • forward look required to estimate future demand for advice
  • need to avoid displacement, especially in local authorities – matched funding may help
  • should other organisations contribute to funding, beyond existing ones?  eg energy related organisations could assist with energy debt, phone companies with mobile phone debt
  • advice can be delivered in settings where people are eg NHS, schools (reaching parents as well)

The discussion will form the basis of an additional recommendation from the Group.

Preliminary recommendations

Scottish Government presented an updated paper on preliminary recommendations.  Proposed Scottish Government actions in response to each recommendation were included.  The Group were in broad agreement with the recommendations.  Issues raised included:

  • need to understand what the demand for debt advice service is
  • funding needs to be adequate and sustainable – shape of funding is as important as length of contracts
  • requirement to seek further funding for debt advice
  • encourage the independent voice of the Scottish debt advice sector
  • Funders Framework is a collaborative approach - Scottish Government, Improvement Service and SLAB
  • interaction with Target Operating Model for England
  • advice needs to be quality assured
  • user testing needs to take into account the diversity of the sector, which might not be fully reflected in experience panels – Money Advice Service has developed models to measure impact of receiving advice on individuals

Next steps

A final set of recommendations for publication will be drafted and circulated for comment. The focus will then move on to developing a routemap, with the Group coming back together to consider that issue.


  1. Scottish Government to circulate a draft set of recommendations from the Group.
  2. Scottish Government to arrange a further meeting in due course to discuss the routemap.




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