Debts: Advisory Services

Treasury written question – answered on 26th February 2021.

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Photo of Andrew Selous Andrew Selous The Second Church Estates Commissioner

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what estimate he has made of the number of households who (a) will need debt advice in 2021-22 and (b) needed debt advice in (i) 2019-20 and (ii) 2020-21.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The Government works closely with the Money and Pensions Service to understand the need for debt advice and monitor financial difficulty through an annual survey and notes the Financial Conduct Authority’s biennial Financial Lives Survey.

The Government recognises that some people are struggling with their finances at this challenging time. To help people in problem debt get their finances back on track, an extra £37.8 million support package has been made available to debt advice providers this financial year, bringing this year's budget for free debt advice in England to over £100 million.

In May 2020, the Government announced the immediate release of £65 million of dormant assets funding to Fair4All Finance, an independent organisation that has been founded to support the financial wellbeing of people in vulnerable circumstances. The funding is used to increase access to fair, affordable and appropriate financial products and services for those in financial difficulties.

From May 2021, the Breathing Space scheme will offer people in problem debt a pause of up to 60 days on most enforcement action, interest, fees and charges, and will encourage them to seek professional debt advice.

The Government has delivered unprecedented support for living standards during this challenging time, protecting livelihoods with the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS), the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), and temporary welfare measures.

The Government has extended the CJRS until 31 March 2021. Eligible employees will continue to receive 80% of their usual salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

The Government has increased the overall level of the third grant under the SEISS to 80% of average trading profits, meaning that the maximum grant available has now increased to £7,500.

The Government has provided local authorities with £500 million to support people who may struggle to meet their council tax payments this year. The Government expects that this will provide all recipients of working age local council tax support with a further reduction in their annual council tax bill of £150 this financial year.

These measures are in addition to the changes this Government has made to make the welfare system more generous, worth over £7 billion according to recent estimates by the Office for Budget Responsibility.

The Government has worked with mortgage lenders, credit providers and the Financial Conduct Authority to ensure the financial sector provides support for people across the UK to manage their finances by providing payment holidays on mortgages and consumer credit products.

The Government has also delivered protections for renters, including an extension to the ban on bailiff evictions for all but the most egregious cases until at least 21 February 2021, with measures kept under review.

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