Through the current commissioning process for England, MaPS’ core objective is to make free of charge debt advice available to more people who need it and ensuring the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances are met, whilst achieving best value for money.
Our modelling shows that more and more people will need this expert debt advice over the months and years ahead, including as a result of the pandemic. Whilst providing local and face-to-face services for those who need them, it is essential that we consider how technology and the existing trend towards digital and telephone advice can contribute to meeting this increased demand. This is why in 2021 we launched a commissioning exercise.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all bidders for the considerable efforts they have made in engaging with this process. We recognise the need to provide clarity for them – and for the wider debt advice community – on what happens next.
Given this is a large investment in debt advice, over the past few weeks, MaPS has been conducting a detailed evaluation of the bids, as we need to be confident that providers will be able to deliver services that meet the needs of clients.
National, business and Debt Relief Order lots
MaPS is continuing the process to award contracts for the national, business and Debt Relief Order lots. We will announce the outcomes of these lots as soon as we can. However, to ensure there is adequate time for mobilisation of these new services, we intend to move back the start date of the new contracts to 1 July 2022 to maintain a transition period of three months, with the potential for a limited extension beyond that.
To minimise any possible disruption to people receiving debt advice, debt advice providers and their staff arising from this new timeline, we intend to offer short term grants to the organisations currently funded to deliver similar services to those in the national, business and Debt Relief Order lots. Organisations being offered these short-term grants will be contacted by MaPS directly.
Lot 2 (regional)
Having evaluated what was offered through the submissions for Lot 2 (regional), we had concerns that the services being offered would not adequately meet the needs of people in vulnerable circumstances at the scale we had hoped to achieve, or provide value for money.
We don’t believe that proceeding with this lot would be in the best interests of people who need debt advice, and so we will not be awarding contracts under Lot 2 (regional) at this time.
Over the coming months, we intend to work closely with debt advice clients, advice organisations and other stakeholders to identify the best ways to deliver locally based services. This will include looking at how best to serve vulnerable clients, including through face-to-face services and casework. We will then procure services on a longer-term basis. More details on how we will do this will be provided in early 2022.
In the meantime, and in order to maintain continuity of service and minimise any impact on people currently receiving debt advice, we will extend existing grants for a limited period of time.
We will do this in two ways:
- For the Covid-response funded services specifically intended to increase adviser capacity in the sector, which were always intended to be a short-term immediate solution to the impact of the pandemic on debt advice resourcing levels, we will extend funding for a period of three months to end June 2022, with the potential for a limited extension beyond that.
- We will be offering all other organisations that are currently funded for face-to-face debt advice services a short-term grant for three months, with an intention – subject to usual due diligence and approvals – to then put in place a longer-term grant for a minimum of 12 months.
Organisations being offered these short-term grants will be contacted by MaPS directly to confirm the value of these extensions and to agree the terms going forwards.
Our guiding principle is to ensure that those people who need help can access expert, free of charge debt advice however and whenever they need it. The amended timeline will enable MaPS to work closely with the successful bidders from the national, business and Debt Relief Order Lots to ensure that there is a seamless transition. And for us to collaborate with the debt advice sector to inform and shape regionally based provision that delivers the best outcome for clients.
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About the Money and Pensions Service
The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) is here to ensure every person feels more in control of their finances throughout their lives: from pocket money to pensions. When they are, communities are healthier, businesses are more prosperous, the economy benefits and individuals feel better off. MaPS delivers free and impartial money and pensions guidance to the public through MoneyHelper, which recently brought together legacy services the Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.
MaPS is working to make sure the whole of the UK understands that financial, physical and mental health are all deeply connected. MaPS’ role is to connect organisations with the shared purpose of achieving the five goals set out in the UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing.
MaPS supports innovation so that everyone can use the most effective methods to help people feel more in control of their money, targeted to those most in need and inclusive of people from all backgrounds. MaPS is an arm’s-length body sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Members of the public can get free guidance about their money and pensions at www.moneyhelper.org.uk