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After a busy period adapting and responding to the challenges presented by COVID-19, Debt Free London is set to launch its vision for free debt advice in the post-pandemic future at a conference in London tomorrow.
Debt Free London is a partnership of organisations working together to provide free, independent advice to Londoners in problem debt. Before the pandemic, London already had the highest poverty rate after housing costs of any UK region, with 1 in 4 Londoners affected. These figures have worsened as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Head of Debt Free London, Matt Dronfield, has adapted the service to the challenges of the crisis by shifting to a multi-dimensional approach, expanding its free debt advice service to operate 24/7 and recruiting 70 new advisers to support the increasing demand for its services. These can be accessed through its face-to-face network of advice centres, digitally through webchat, email or WhatsApp or through the traditional phone call route.
It has piloted new ways for Londoners to access debt help, by setting up a number of video advice kiosks within local communities by using technology provided by our sister company Paylink Solutions.
Matt Dronfield says: “During the national lockdowns, initiatives such as Furlough schemes provided by the Government gave much needed support to those with money worries – however as those schemes have ended, our service has seen a huge increase in enquiries.
In order to meet this demand, we’ve piloted use of Paylink Solutions’ technology to drive efficiencies, ensuring advisers can spend less time on admin and more time helping people. It has helped us to not only work more efficiently remotely but has allowed us to prepare for the future and the road ahead. By using technology to make smart decisions and automate solutions in the future, we’ll help more people get the help they need faster.”
Susan Rann, CEO of Paylink Solutions said: “We’re delighted to be working with Debt Free London, and the initial pilot using our software and Open Banking technology has been very successful in driving efficiencies and helping identify customers with more complex needs. We look forward to working closely together in the future as we continually adapt to the way people want to use technology to receive debt advice.”
To inform its future vision, Debt Free London recently commissioned a series of extensive reports, the results of which will be presented at the conference later this week. The reports include recent adviser wellbeing research, the Debt Free London annual impact report and a report into the future of accessible debt advice support, which addresses issues of accessibility with the view to ensuring debt advice services reach and support people who need them, whilst also identifying solutions.
The launch is taking place tomorrow at 40 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5NR and tickets can be obtained from: https://tinyurl.com/sv7nkrb6