Labour hand-outs boost debt advice

The government last week revealed that it has given 120m to fund financial inclusion initiatives and 45m to fund more free face-to-face debt advice.

With UK debt at an all-time high, the government has issued a report – the third of its kind – outlining what government actions and industry initiatives have been launched to help solve the problem.

Moves that have been or will be implemented include the Consumer Credit Act 2006, along with new laws to boost responsible lending and borrowing. The report also recommends that measures be put in place to provide breathing space for those who want to repay their debts.

The Department for Education and Skills will introduce basic financial skills into GCSE maths in England from 2008 and employees in the private and public sectors will get more information on personal finance.

Lisa Taylor, spokeswoman for Moneyfacts.co.uk, says: “More needs to be done. There are initiatives in place but the problem is the stigma that comes with being in debt. People don’t want to admit it and until they do the advice lines and help available can’t work.”

Mark Locke, spokesman for savings and protection business Aegon, says: “People should be encouraged to save more for their retirement and ensure they have adequate financial protection in place.

“But it’s hard to do this when your priority is reduction of personal debt. We have often spoken of the need to get consumers thinking about their financial futures and education can play an important part in this.”