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Help from unexpected places

calendar16 January 2018

Kiri Saunders's avatar Kiri Saunders

Help from unexpected places

Working together to change the finance industry

For many people receiving help from us, when it comes to some of the wider issues that affect their situation, their voice is not heard. The job of CAP’s External Affairs team is to speak up for the UK’s poorest, in government, to the credit industry, utilities companies and the enforcement sector, in order to influence change.

Since the External Affairs team has been in existence, CAP has built relationships with external organisations in order to speak on behalf of the people we help. Of note, the relationship between the enforcement industry and CAP has grown from strength to strength and has created many positive outcomes as a result. Despite the industry having many negative connotations, we recognise that enforcement agencies do not want to push people into further financial hardship. In fact, these agencies, like us, are in a privileged position to identify vulnerability because they too are entering people’s homes. 

There can be a powerful positive impact when organisations, such as enforcement agencies, work together with debt advisers, helping to secure the right outcome. When partnership is done well it catches those who may have fallen through the net, acting as the last opportunity to offer the help and support vulnerable people need.

One example of a working relationship is that which we’ve developed with enforcement agency Phoenix over recent years. It has helped ensure that their agents are trained to recognise and help those in poverty. One of Phoenix’s team, Jamie Upchurch, said:

‘The majority of those who can’t pay their debt genuinely want to and our relationships with organisations like CAP help facilitate vital assistance and solutions for those who are vulnerable. I recently visited a single mother, who had no assets inside her property and was struggling to feed her children. I managed to facilitate a three-way call with CAP who set an appointment for a centre manager to visit her property. I placed the case on hold until CAP contacted my office with an affordable offer of payment, which was accepted. The lady has never defaulted on her arrangement with us.’

We’ve also been able to set up a password process between enforcement agencies and CAP caseworkers. This password allows the enforcement agent to know that their customer is working with CAP and they will halt collection until CAP are able to create a repayment plan.

Another example of partnerships working well is CAP client Mark, who featured in last year’s Client report. Mark was visited by his mortgage provider’s field team, who found him in extreme poverty and his home in severe disrepair. The field team referred him to CAP, and with our help Mark was able to rebuild his life and resolve his debt situation. To read more about Mark’s story, take a look at our Client report.

We’re always looking at ways to build and develop partnerships, including with the enforcement sector, helping to provide clients with forbearance and space to sort out a situation. Throughout the industry there are many examples of partnerships creating good practice and better outcomes for clients, but there is always room for improvement. CAP has contributed to the Taking control report, which highlights the fundamental issues and rogue practices that still take place in the industry today, calling for more regulation in the sector. We’ve been able to provide a unique voice in discussions, speaking on behalf of our clients in order to get the best outcomes for the people we help.

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