Tackling Problem Debt Group papers: August 2018

Papers from the third meeting of the Tackling Problem Debt Group that took place on 27 August 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lorraine King, Scottish Government, Consumer and Competition Policy Unit (chair)
  • Alison Bean, SLAB
  • Sharon Bell, StepChange
  • David Brownlee, Citizens Advice Service
  • Russell Haddow, Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • David Hilferty, Money Advice Scotland
  • Sharon MacPherson, Scotcash
  • Michael McClements, COSLA
  • Angus McIntosh, Castlemilk Law Centre
  • Sandra Sankey, Improvement Service
  • Laura Sexton, Scottish Government, Access to Justice Unit
  • Laura McGlynn, Scottish Government, CCPU
  • Andrew McConnell, Scottish Government, CCPU (secretariat)


  • Allison Barnes, Money Advice Service
  • Karen Hurst, ABCUL
  • Karen Grieve, Scottish Government, Fairer Scotland Team
  • Helen McCabe, Cemvo Scotland

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction

The chair welcomed the attendees and thanked them for attending the third meeting of the Tackling Problem Debt Group. She welcomes Angus McIntosh to his first meeting. She explained that this meeting would focus on collaborative approaches to debt advice.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were agreed.

Discussion on collaborative approaches to debt advice

The group split into two to discuss the paper which had been previously circulated. Six suggested approaches to increase collaborative working were scored out of 5 on (1) its likelihood of increasing collaboration and (2) its ease of implementation. The results are given in the Annex [below]. Issues discussed at the subsequent plenary session included:

  • the Funders Framework is a good concept and there are some examples where it is used well.  However it is not always easy to implement and further work could be undertaken to understand how the process could be simplified
  • there are already some common outcomes across all debt advice but it is unclear how this will lead to increased collaboration
  • although the prospect of moving away from single year funding models should be welcomed, there may be difficulties in implementing longer term proposals as smaller organisations (eg smaller Local Authorities) may have difficulty in making commitments too far in advance
  • ashared infrastructure would be useful if starting from scratch but could be too costly in current circumstances due to the expense of switching over to different infrastructure. Questions around who owns the data would need to be addressed. To be successful, the sector would need to own the change rather than it being imposed by the Scottish Government
  • there were mixed views around using procurement more – it can lead to better bids and greater accountability and some have had good experiences.  However, it was noted that there are examples where it has gone badly wrong, and also that it can lead to more competitive mindsets across the sector
  • acentral commissioning hub could be a place to enable more discussion between funders and could drive more strategic decision-making.  However, any Scottish Government led commissioning would need to be done in collaboration as Scottish Government would only control a small part of the overall debt funding

Action 1: Scottish Government to circulate possible dates for next meeting of the Group in October. The meeting will look at workforce planning.

Annex: results of scoring session


Group A

Group B

Scottish Government to explore whether the Framework for Public Funding of Advice (Funders Framework) could be used across all debt advice commissioning



Scottish Government to develop common outcomes that can be used across all Scottish Government-funded debt advice to guide its commissioning strategy



Scottish Government to seek to move away from single year funding models for debt advice



Scottish Government to explore possibility for shared infrastructure, such as telephone lines and case management tools



Scottish Government to explore how procurement could play a larger role in a commissioning model



Scottish Government to develop a commissioning hub






Andrew McConnell

Email: andrew.mcconnell@gov.scot

Phone: 0131 244 1142

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