Before accessing debt advice, it can move the process along and make things quicker if you have already supported the young person to prepare the following:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of Address
- Details of income - wage slips, benefit and tax credits letters
- Details of household spending – what you spend on things like housing costs, food, transport, phone and bills
- Financial paperwork including latest bank statement and copies of loans or credit agreements
- Details of all your debts, including how much you owe and latest letters or demands for payment. Note: These are useful but a debt adviser will request a credit report
- Copy of any court or enforcement action papers
To help the young person get a better idea of their household spending it can be useful to create a budget with them. They will need to go through this information with the debt adviser at the appointment but it can be useful for the young person to be prepared for this step.
There are a few really useful budget calculators online or you can use the debt pack included in this toolkit.
It’s important to know that professional debt advice is available free of charge from some of the organisations listed below.
If you are unsure, you can always check if the organisation is authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can go to www.fca.org.uk and search for ‘financial services register’, then ‘search the register’ and enter the name of the organisation to check their credentials.
What happens next?
At the appointment a trained debt specialist will talk to the young person about their situation and what’s been going on for them.
As with all advice appointments, it’s important to encourage the practice of note taking and asking of any questions that they may have. The debt adviser is there to help.
A debt adviser will:
- Tell the young person what information they need to gather to get a clear picture of the debt as it is now: what type of debt they have, how much they owe and what deadlines are coming up
- Help them to understand which debts are most important and why
- Point them to tools that create an ongoing budget to help build financial resilience
- Complete a benefits check
- Request a credit report
- Look at income maximisation
- Provide options and explain the consequences of each of those options
- Support them to communicate their situation with the people they owe money to and negotiate reasonable payments (if appropriate)
- Understand their legal rights and responsibilities
It is likely that it will require several advice appointments for the young person to work through an action plan.
You can continue to support the young person receiving debt advice by;
- Helping to gather paperwork or documents
- Attending any further debt appointments with them
- Research the topics with them discussed in the appointment so the young person becomes familiar with the terminology
- Checking in with the young person to make sure they are up to date with any tasks the debt adviser has set for them
- Ask the adviser to email you/copy you in to any updates on the case
- Arrange regular time(s) with the adviser for an update. The administrative side can sometimes take a while and feel like nothing is happening. The debt adviser should explain this in the appointment, but if the young person is concerned, make sure there are contact details for them and yourself.
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