The Money Advice Trust was formed 25 years ago to increase the quality and availability of free, independent money advice to people with debt problems.
The Money Advice Trust was founded in 1991 as an independent charity with the support of the government, creditors and the advice sector more widely. One of the original aims of the Trust was to work with partners to channel financial contributions from the creditor sector towards the funding of debt advice. By setting common standards and creating materials and courses, the Money Advice Trust and its partners have been at the forefront of ensuring quality and consistency of advice to people with debt problems. The Trust went on to run National Debtline, Business Debtline and to coordinate training across the sector through Wiseradviser.
With demand for money advice consistently outstripping supply, finding more efficient ways of helping people with debt problems is core to the Trust’s work, such as the development of sector tools such as the Common Financial Statement
the Information Hub, CASHflow
and free self-help packs
for the advice sector to use with their clients.
At the heart of the Trust’s approach is a belief that the best way to help people in debt is to empower them to help themselves. This assisted self-help approach allows people to control their own debt situation, resulting in better long–term financial health. Last year the Trust helped 1.3m people across the UK.
The Trust’s head office is in Garlick Hill, London and our advice services are run from Tricorn House in Birmingham. In total the Trust employs almost 200 staff.
Housing Debtline, the UK’s first telephone advice line for people with debt problems, was set up in 1987 by Birmingham Settlement and the Money Advice Association and received 1,000 calls in the first three months of operation. Originally, there were two advisers and an answerphone. In 1990 the name was changed to National Debtline to reflect the wider type of debt advice provided.
National Debtline pioneered the assisted self-help approach to debt advice and developed national self-help information resources to support this. In 1996 the service expanded into Scotland. The number of advisers increased but the service was unable to keep up with the ever-growing demand for advice.
In 2001, Money Advice Trust started working with National Debtline with a view to significantly increasing the capacity of the helpline. Following a £2m pilot funded by government and the finance sector, the Trust took over responsibility for the running of National Debtline. Nowadays, a new National Debtline
online advice service with advice channels such as web chat and email, and advice using social media are offered alongside the freephone helpline.
We have over 80 advisers dealing with over 430,000 enquiries a year and an 11 strong referrals team dealing with debt relief orders, IVAs and debt management plans.
Business Debtline is a unique service offering free, confidential, and independent advice on how to deal with debt or cashflow problems to micro-businesses in financial difficulty. Business Debtline was launched in 1992 by Birmingham Settlement as a service for businesses in the Birmingham area with a small team of advisers.
Due to demand Business Debtline became a national telephone helpline in 2000 with support from the private sector and government. The Trust took over the running of Business Debtline in 2005. In 2002, the service took nearly 5,000 calls. Now it deals with 65,000 queries either by phone or online a year.
We have 22 advisers offering specialist advice, complemented by a comprehensive range of self-help written materials which are available on the Business Debtline
website. Online advice is now provided by our new web-chat service.
Wiseradviser was established in partnership with the IMA, Citizens Advice and others, by the sector-wide Training Steering Group.
In 1994, the Trust and leading money advice agencies agreed to establish 'a coordinated programme of training to agreed standards'. This evolved into the three levels of training still used today: 'generalist', 'caseworker', and 'specialist' (known as 'Type 1', 'Type 2', and 'Type 3' in Scotland, and 'generalist', 'skilled', and 'specialist' in Northern Ireland).
The Wiseradviser brand was launched in 2002 to ensure the Trust's advice sector partners could freely access the range of materials the Money Advice Trust produced to support advisers.
In 2006 we trained a new intake of advisers funded by the government under the Financial Inclusion Fund. Following this we have provided regular training events to these advisers, which later became funded by the Money Advice Service Face-to-face Debt Advice Project. Over the years we have delivered essential training on key changes in law, including workshops for Intermediaries when Debt Relief Orders were introduced in 2009, and online training on the Welfare Reforms in 2012.
In 2009, the Money Advice Trust commissioned an independent report looking at the support available to advisers and agencies (e.g. training, telephone consultancy, and online learning materials) to identify areas of unmet need. This research has driven the Trust's recent work in developing more online resources for advisers through the Wiseradviser
website. We have over 5,000 advisers registered on our website who have free access our growing range of e-learning courses, videos, forums and podcasts.
In 2013/14 Wiseradviser achieved endorsement from Skillsmark, a recognised quality mark for learning and development programmes in the justice, community safety and legal services sectors. In 2014/15 we gained accreditation for the Wiseradviser programme from the Money Advice Service as part of their Quality Framework for Individuals.