Charities publish new handbook for debt advisers

The handbook brings together all the information advisers need to effectively support households struggling with debt.

Charities publish new handbook for debt advisers iStock

Charities have launched a new handbook to help debt advisers give people the best advice amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS), Money Advice Scotland (MAS) and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) jointly launched the first edition of a new Debt Advice Handbook for Scotland on Tuesday.

The handbook brings together all the information advisers need to effectively support households struggling with debt.

Supported by the Scottish Government, the resource aims to give frontline advisers a comprehensive set of tools and strategies to help restore people’s financial stability.

It comes after CAS analysis earlier this year suggested more than 660,000 people in Scotland have seen their mental health and wellbeing affected by debt.

Derek Mitchell, chief executive of Citizens Advice Scotland, said: “Debt is one of the issues that we see most often in the Scottish Citizens Advice Bureaux network.

“When debt becomes unmanageable it’s a horrible situation for people to be in, affecting not just their ability to pay their bills and put food on the table but also impacting people’s physical and mental health, including relationships.

“We’ve been really pleased to work with our partners on this new handbook. It’s more important than ever that different organisations work together to provide the best possible support to people who need it.

“That’s what this handbook is all about and we hope everyone involved in debt advice in Scotland will find it useful.”

The new Debt Advice Handbook Scotland is available free online and for sale in hard copy.

It details the key stages of money advice, including on interviewing clients, establishing liability, prioritising debts, preparing a financial statement, negotiating with creditors and dealing with bailiffs.

John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “With debt and poverty too often inextricably linked and families across Scotland struggling to make ends meet we are delighted to have worked with Citizens Advice Scotland and Money Advice Scotland to publish this new handbook.

“It will help ensure that advisers across Scotland can give the best possible debt advice.”

Peter Costello, chief executive of Money Advice Scotland, also welcomed the new handbook.

He said: “Being in debt can be incredibly overwhelming, and taking the first step to get help can be daunting.

“Thankfully, debt advisers provide invaluable support to people in financial difficulty, and we are delighted to have worked with Citizens Advice Scotland and the Child Poverty Action Group in Scotland to launch this new handbook which will be a fantastic resource for the money and debt advice sector.

“Making sure advisers have comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge at a time when more and more people need their help is essential to ensuring they can give the best possible advice, and this handbook will serve as another tool that allows advisers to do this.”

The handbook can be found online at askcpag.org.uk/publications/-256793/debt-advice-scotland

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