Tackling Problem Debt Group papers: October 2018

Papers from the fourth meeting of the Tackling Problem Debt Group that took place on 23 October 2018.

Attendees and apologies


  • Laura McGlynn, 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
  • Michael McClements, COSLA
  • Alex Reid, Accountant in Bankruptcy
  • Sandra Sankey, Improvement Service
  • Hazel Thoms, Scottish Legal Aid Board
  • Andrew McConnell, Scottish Government – CCPU (Secretariat)


  • Alistair Chisholm, PayPlan
  • Maggie Craig, FCA
  • Matt Hartley, Money Advice Trust
  • Lyndsay Humphries, Money Advice Trust


  • Lorraine King, Scottish Government – CCPU
  • Karen Grieve, Scottish Government – Fairer Scotland Team
  • Helen McCabe, Cemvo Scotland
  • 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 fourth meeting of the Tackling Problem Debt Group. She welcomed Maggie Craig, Alistair Chisholm, Matt Hartley and Lyndsey Humphries to their first meeting. She explained that this meeting would focus on workforce planning.

Minutes of previous meeting

The minutes were agreed.

EKOS report on debt advice provision

The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government, had been circulated prior to the meeting. There was some discussion on the recommendation that money advises should be renames as debt counsellors, with the consensus being that the title should not be changed.

Presentation by Money Advice Trust

Lyndsey Humphries and Yvonne MacDermid gave a presentation on money advice sector training in Scotland.

Workforce strategy

Yvonne MacDermid presented a discussion paper on workforce strategy. The paper was welcomed by the Group. General issues raised in the discussion included:

  • quality of advice is paramount
  • do modern apprenticeships have a role
  • issues are common to whole of advice sector - solutions can be shared across the wider sector
  • volunteers need to be included

Issues raised in connection with the five broad principles identified in the paper which should underpin the workforce strategy included:

1. Retaining experience

Management of the sector, and how advisers are supported, is important in retaining staff. This includes support for debt advisers working in isolation within larger, non-debt teams.

2. Attracting new talent

  • make links with Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and SQA – may be funding sources
  • attracting volunteers and paid staff is different
  • need to demonstrate how it can be a rewarding role and how it is different from commercial debt advice
  • could all funders collaborate to attract talent? There is a model in supporting law trainees

3. Driving learning and development

  • need to embrace technology more
  • supervision of casework needs to be developed
  • advisers should share experiences and knowledge – could be through videos or peer review

4. Maximising adviser time to focus on clients

  • use technology solutions
  • funders should work to a common framework
  • admin support is key to freeing up advisers’ time
  • blended approach – use more than one channel to provide advice

5. Protecting adviser wellbeing

Connected to 1. and 2.

  • organisations have a responsibility, not just the individual
  • a wellbeing policy could be developed to sit beneath the Scottish National Standards
  • a wellbeing policy could be part of funding requirements

It was agreed that consideration should be given on how to take these ideas forward.

Preliminary recommendations

Scottish Government presented a paper on preliminary recommendations, based on discussions from the Group meetings so far.  The Group agreed that it was a fair reflection of the findings of the Group to date.  Issues raised included:

  • important to take into account other funding as well, not just the levy funding
  • consider role of Scottish Financial Enterprise (included life companies and insurers) and FinTech Scotland
  • consider interaction with Single Financial Guidance Body and reflect debt work across the UK

Action 1: Scottish Government to circulate dates for next meeting of Group, to look at sustainable funding


Tackling Problem Debt Group: workforce strategy paper
Tackling Problem Debt Group: joint presentation
Debt advice provision: EKOS report August 2018


Andrew McConnell
Email: andrew.mcconnell@gov.scot
Phone: 0131 244 1142


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