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New report promotes good practice in dealing with debt

13 October 2011

A new report out today showcases good practice that helps consumers in financial difficulty.

How to do the right thing is the result of collaboration between banks, utility companies, debt collectors, local and national government agencies, bailiffs, a host of other creditors, and advisers with leading debt charities.* It uses existing examples of good practice to demonstrate the key principles that help people overcome their debt problems.

Backed by the British Bankers' Association (BBA)**and Citizens Advice, the report sets out how anyone collecting debt or providing debt advice can build on existing good practice and help people address their financial difficulties.

Citizens Advice Chief Executive Gillian Guy said:

"Each year we help over 550,000 people deal with debt related problems involving a range of different creditors from banks and energy suppliers to government agencies. Bad debt collection practices can have dire consequences and often make things worse by pressurising the person in debt to pay more than they can afford. People’s homes, relationships, health and wellbeing are all at risk as a result.

"This report – which is packed with examples of good practice – outlines some clear steps creditors and advice providers can take that will benefit everyone concerned, not just those in debt. It shows that some creditors and advisers are already doing the right thing and that these steps really work.

"We will do all we can to make sure that good practice is part of everything we do, and we hope creditors of all kinds will follow our lead and make the good practice described here the industry norm.

"But we still need consumers to work with us and their creditors if any of this is going to work. So our message to consumers stays the same: if you're struggling to make ends meet or repay debts, or think you might need help soon, get free, independent advice as soon as possible."

Ian Peters, Managing Director, Energy, at British Gas said:

"During these tough economic times, it’s vital that businesses work together to help people who find themselves in financial difficulty. Helping people to get back on their feet is the right thing to do and this report will help us to be more effective in doing just that. The AFD* should be congratulated on the publication of How to do the right thing."

For the full report:

* How to do the right thing: Examples of good practice that help consumers address and overcome periods of financial difficulty has been produced by the Addressing Financial Difficulties good practice working party (the AFD).  This working party was created to take forward the 2010 report Do the right thing. It is chaired by Alex MacDermott and has representatives from over 40 firms from 18 sectors – including banks, credit card companies, utility suppliers, water companies, local government, debt collectors, bailiffs and advice providers.

** The BBA is the leading trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector.The BBA speak for over 200 member banks from 60 countries on the full range of UK and international banking issues.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local bureaux, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To find your local bureau in England and Wales, visit
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers
  5. Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales advised 2.3 million clients on 5.4 million problems from October 2013 to September 2014. For full 2013/2014  service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 3,000 service outlets across England and Wales.