The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) tender process for debt advice is due to close on 15th October.  During the process, MaPS has confirmed that the Debt Advice Peer Assessment (DAPA) scheme will be scrapped at the end of March 2022, and we acknowledge that there is also some additional focus on adviser well-being in the new contracts. We welcome this, as we called for DAPA to be scrapped and to be replaced with a more proportionate quality assurance scheme when we met with MaPS in July.

However, the tendering exercise has also revealed significant issues, which, in our opinion, threaten the future of face to face debt advice. In particular, the prioritisation of digital advice channels over face to face provision will leave many more vulnerable debtors unable to get the support they need. It is unacceptable that MaPS have only recently (28th September) issued a call for evidence in respect concerning the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on access to debt advice. The deadline for responses is unreasonably short (29th October) given the turmoil being created to services by the tendering exercise itself. This review must be extended, and given time to complete in order to properly inform future provision.  

We have today written to MaPS expressing our concerns about this review, and have called for the tender process to be halted pending a full and proper consultation. However, it is not the only reason we are concerned.  There is information available regarding a possible replacement scheme for DAPA. Yet, the new contracts propose a significant clawback of payments if quality targets against this unknown replacement are not met. Bidders therefore face considerable uncertainty, and other aspects of the contracting regime, including the move to a smaller number of considerably larger regional lots, have made it impossible for smaller agencies to bid.

Combined with the drive to digital, we consider that the new contracts will lead to a significant loss of face to face provision at time when cases are becoming more complex and the need for face to face services is increasing. We are also concerned that there may be no funding available for translation services or training.

We need to act together!

We wrote to every single MP on 24th September to warn them about the implications of the MaPS contracts for debt advice, and to ask for their support. But we must do more to get their attention.

We have therefore arranged for an on-line meeting of debt advisers and MPs to take place at 3pm on Thursday 4th November. We want as many debt advisers to attend this as possible, and for you to invite your MP to come to this as well.

We are pleased that we do already have some cross-party support for the event with the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Debt and Personal Finance, Yvonne Fovargue MP, and the former Minister for State for Justice, Paul Maynard MP, confirmed to attend.

Here is what we are now asking you to do:

1.Register for the event here.

2. If you are on Twitter, then send out a tweet to invite your MPs. Here is an example from our Twitter site from the Leeds Debt Advice Network. Please use the hashtag #SaveDebtAdvice, where you can also see other examples of the tweets sent to MPs.

3. You can also e-mail your MPs. It helps if you can add local concerns about the impacts of the MaPS contracts, but if you do not have time to do this or do not know yet what these are likely to be, then a simple e-mail along the following lines will do:

"Dear (name) MP,

I am a debt adviser serving people in your constituency, and am writing to bring your attention to the risks posed by the current tendering for debt advice contracts being conducted by the Money and Pensions Service. These are likely to result in a considerable reduction in face to face debt advice services at a time when both the demand for, and complexity of, debt advice is increasing and could lead to job losses within debt advice in your area.

A full briefing concerning the problems likely to be caused by the proposed new contracts for debt advice is being organised for MPs by the We are Debt Advisers group at 3pm on Thursday 4th November, and I would be grateful if you could attend this, to agree a Parliamentary strategy.

Please register on Eventbrite at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/lets-save-face-to-face-debt-advice-tickets-188164724757

Yours sincerely etc."

Posted 
Oct 11, 2021
 in 
 category

Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest
Posts to Your Inbox

No spam ever. Read our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.