CASHflow is a free, streamlined advice process designed to support and empower people who are experiencing difficulty in dealing with their debts.
CASHflow helps people in debt to negotiate with their creditors themselves.
CASHflow increases adviser availability by freeing up more time to spend with individuals requiring a casework service.
CASHflow reassures creditors that people in debt have received full debt advice, and their financial statements have been reviewed by an adviser.
CASHflow uses the style and format of the Common Financial Statement (CFS)
, a recognised and straightforward budgeting tool used by creditors and advice agencies. It allows a client and adviser to agree a CFS style budget, which the client can then use to negotiate directly with their creditors. Unique client reference numbers and an easily recognisable logo help creditors identify that CASHflow has been used.
The principle behind CASHflow is that creditors should treat offers from people using it in the same way that they treat offers made via a third party advice agency.
CASHflow has won two industry awards including the Institute for Money Advisers ‘Best New Initiative Award’ and the Credit Today ‘Money Advice Initiative Award’ in May 2010 and is recognised in the Lending Code, the Finance and Leasing Association Lending Code and the Office of Fair Trading Debt Collection Guidance. It is an important example of how the advice sector and credit industry can work together to support people in debt.
Some of the key features of CASHflow
CASHflow web portal
The CASHflow web portal gives people access to the tools they need to negotiate with their creditors. It guides them through the process of drawing up a financial statement and provides access to sample letters and a downloadable guide. Advice agencies can use this web portal to check and approve financial statements created by their clients and manage which of their clients has access. If the client wishes to do so, they can give their unique CASHflow reference number to their creditors so that they can also view their financial statement online.
The CASHflow guide
There are two comprehensive guides providing information to support advisers and people in debt. The guide for advisers, which is available here, provides step-by-step instructions for using CASHflow with clients. There is also a guide for people dealing with their own debts, available here. This guide provides information about possible responses from creditors, what to do if creditors do not agree straight away, and how to find out about consumer rights and complaints.
A recognised brand
CASHflow has an easily identifiable logo which appears on financial statements approved by agencies. This tells creditors that a client has been given holistic advice on their debt options and relevant advice on maximising their income and budgeting. It confirms that the repayment offers the client is making are equivalent to those that a caseworker would make on the client’s behalf if the client were receiving casework.
Self-help debt advice has a very important role to play in helping people resolve their debt problems and allowing advice agencies to make effective use of their resources. However, self-help has not always worked as effectively as it could. In the past, advisers often reported that self-help clients struggled to get their offers accepted by creditors, despite having been fully advised and supported by an agency. Often, creditors refused to accept offers unless they were made by a third party advice agency acting on the client’s behalf. As a result precious time and resource was being spent reiterating offers of payment, and people in debt were left disempowered and dejected.
Independent evaluations of the two CASHflow pilot phases were commissioned to ensure that CASHflow developed in a meaningful way.
These problems were investigated in ‘With a little help from my friends’
, a report published by Citizens Advice, AdviceUK, the Institute of Money Advisers and the Money Advice Trust as part of an RBS funded project in 2009. The report concluded that self-help debt advice could be made significantly more effective by establishing a recognised standard approach. A working party of creditors, debt collectors and advisers was set up to develop this new approach, which came to be known as ‘Common Assisted Self-Help’ or ‘CASHflow’. The CASHflow pilot was funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. RBS supported and funded the national launch and roll out.