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Response to the Money Advice Service's 2016/17 Business Plan

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MAS's business plan. Comment and insight from StepChange Debt Charity.

Our responses to the questions from MAS's draft 2016/17 Business Plan are based on evidence, research, analysis and insights gained across 23 years of providing free debt advice.

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Consultation on the Money Advice Service’s 2016/17 Business Plan and we are broadly supportive of much of its content relating to our areas of expertise - although we would welcome a stronger sense of the priority of each piece of work.

A summary of our response

  • We share relevant research findings which show the key groups who are in acute financial difficulty, and are vulnerable to difficulty. We describe their incomes, work lives, family structures, use of credit products, and other characteristics that might help MAS prioritise and target their work.
  • We suggest that this insight points to how MAS can use their considerable resources strategically to improve reach and effectiveness in the free debt advice sector.
  • We make the case for MAS to do more research to support frontline debt advice organisations. MAS has the resources and central position in the landscape to do work that no other organisation can.
  • We suggest that MAS’s financial capability work is tied even more closely to the prevention of problem debt, following the recommendations of the Farnish Review.
  • We suggest that MAS play a more forthright role in public policy. We believe that promoting behaviour and attitude change will not always be sufficient, and that changes to society’s rules and defaults will sometimes be necessary. Equally we believe policy change is necessary to reduce problem debt, which will help close the gap between the need for debt advice and the available supply.

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Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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