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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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What if coronavirus has left my service users worried about debt?


9th November 2020
by David Naismith
Business development manager at StepChange Debt Charity Scotland
 

Sponsored content: David Naismith of StepChange charity on how they can assist Scottish charities

As a result of the pandemic, millions of people across the UK have lost their jobs or had their income reduced. Many people who were financially fine before the pandemic have built up short-term debt and arrears, on top of the millions of people who were already struggling – but we can help.

Since 1997 we’ve worked collaboratively with partners in Scotland to help people at risk of or struggling with debt to take back control of their finances and their lives.

We provide free debt advice tailored to the client’s circumstance and in line with Scottish debt law, and we’re an approved organisation for setting up debt payment programmes through the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS).

How can you help charities in Scotland?

Some of your service users may clearly be struggling right now, others may need our help to stop their financial situation deteriorating – either way, we can offer tailored support.

Whether they choose to engage with us online, or by calling us we’ll start by asking them a few triage questions to understand what kind of help they might need.

This could be simple budgeting advice, or help with a persistent debt, or they may need to have a full debt advice session and consider a debt solution recommendation.

In every case, each client receives an easy to follow action plan to help them on their path to financial recovery.

What is a debt solution?

Depending on the clients’ circumstances we might recommend that they consider a debt solution, and our advice is always free of charge.

These can be formal, or informal arrangements which may help a client to repay their debt over a longer period of time, may freeze interest and charges, write off some of their debt, or allow it to be written off altogether.

We offer a wide range of Scottish-only solutions such DAS, bankruptcy (minimal assets process or full administration), or a protected trust deed, in addition to UK-wide plans such as a debt management plan or token payments.

How can you help people affected financially by coronavirus?

Our research tells us that there are a group of people who may struggle to return to their contractual payments without support once forbearance measures and government support come to an end. Our new Covid Payment Plan (CVPP) offers these people a short-term helping hand if they meet the qualifying criteria. You can find out more about it on our website or watch the short video below.

How do you support vulnerable people?

Many people with financial difficulties are also vulnerable for many other reasons. Where this is the case, we provide additional support tailored to their circumstances. All of our advisors are trained to handle difficult and upsetting situations, and to identify additional vulnerability.

We also have a specialist team based in our Glasgow office who work with our most vulnerable clients who may be experiencing vulnerabilities such as mental health problems, a long-term or terminal illness, dementia, a brain injury or have difficulty in communicating.

How can my charity start referring people to StepChange?

If you’re speaking to service users who are struggling financially, get in touch with us – we can provide training materials and a digital referral form so that your colleagues can start referring people for our support today.

Visit here to find out more and email David Naismith, Business Development Manager Scotland at David.Naismith@stepchange.org

David Naismith is business development manager at StepChange Debt Charity Scotland.

 

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