The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), established in 2019, is a government agency sponsored by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), it also engages with HM Treasury. The MaPS has a statutory duty to provide debt advice in England, it does this by commissioning services, such as Citizens Advice. The MaPS has published online a full list of its debt advice funded suppliers. (Pro-rata finding for debt advice in the devolved nations is administered by the governments in each nation).

Owing to the Coronavirus outbreak, the expectation is that the demand for debt advice services will further increase. In June 2020, the MaPS secured an additional £37.8 million to fund the provision of debt advice and other support for people suffering money difficulties due to the pandemic.

The core funding agreements for debt advice delivery were inherited by the MaPS and have been renewed on an annual basis. However, during 2021/2022 MaPS intends to undertake commissioning for debt advice services. New funding agreements are expected to be in place from April 2022.

The MaPS’s funding arrangements and tendering process for 2021/22 are published on their website. Details of the restructure are highlighted in the departmental Review of MaPS by the DWP, published on 1 November 2021, and includes the following:

“On debt advice, MaPS is moving from grant agreements to contracts, which will increase MaPS’ ability to run services on a commercial basis. It is strengthening the Management Information it receives from its partner organisations to support performance management and service improvement. It is looking to shift the emphasis of delivery, with more debt advice being delivered through digital channels and less via face-to-face contact.”

Under the new tender, contracts for a mix of face-to-face and digital and phone services will be issued. Three contracts will cover the north, Midlands and south of England, with separate arrangements for national call centre and online-based advice.

MaPS has explained the reasons for this new funding approach as follows:

“[It presents] an opportunity to ensure the services we fund are high quality and built around the latest insight on the wants and needs of customers. It also provides significant opportunities for new and existing providers to establish new partnerships and create new service delivery models to respond to the needs of customers.”

However, there are concerns that this “change in funding strategy could cut the amount of face-to-face advice by between 50% and 60%.”  As highlighted by Northamptonshire’s Community Law Service, such a cut could mean services that rely on MaPS funding may have to drop face-to-face services or close entirely. The charity StepChange has welcomed the increase in MaPS funding but has warned that “a rocky road lies ahead for household finances.

Library’s briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on household savings provides statistics on levels of debt since the pandemic, drawing on data from charities such as Citizens Advice and StepChange. It considers evidence which appears to suggest that some households, particularly those with low incomes, have run down savings and increased debt since the start of the pandemic. Critics of the MaPS’s new funding approach have claimed that the effect of decreased in-person debt advice could be more acute since the removal of the Universal Credit uplift of £20 per week, increasing energy prices and high inflation.

Parliamentary Questions

Debts: Coronavirus 

Asked by: Fletcher, Colleen | Party: Labour Party 

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the impact of the covid-19 outbreak on the levels of household debt in (a) Coventry North East constituency, (b) Coventry, (c) the West Midlands and (d) England. 

Answering member: John Glen | Party: Conservative Party | Department: Treasury 

The Government regularly monitors trends in household debt levels in order to inform policy making to help people manage their money well and access support if they need to get their finances back on track. It does so by working closely with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and engages regularly with a range of other stakeholders on their research and findings. 

The FCA conducts a biennial Financial Lives Survey of 16,000 adults which provides a comprehensive insight into the finances of the UK population. The latest findings from the survey were published in February 2021 and showed that between March and October 2020, the number of people with low financial resilience increased by 3.5 million, from 10.7 million to 14.2 million. 

MaPS monitors financial difficulty through the Debt Need Survey of approximately 22,000 people, with data on regional levels of over-indebtedness last published in 2018. MaPS will publish the results of the 2021 Debt Need Survey early next year, which will include a regional breakdown of their new Need for Debt Advice measure. 

19 Nov 2021 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 73862 

Debts: Advisory Services 

Asked by: Lucas, Caroline | Party: Green Party 

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whether he has had discussions with relevant stakeholders on the potential effect of the timeframe for the recommissioning process for debt advice services on the ability of smaller debt advice organisations and charities to (a) lead bids for one of the three proposed regional debt advice services and (b) become a delivery partner in joint bids; and if he will make a statement. 

Answering member: John Glen | Party: Conservative Party | Department: Treasury 

The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) assesses debt advice demand and makes decisions about advice provision. MaPS’s statutory responsibilities include the need to consider the most vulnerable in its decision-making. 

Information on the bids received as part of MaPS’ procurement process is commercially sensitive while that process is still ongoing, with it being set to conclude early in 2022. However, the procurement exercise is expected to materially increase the amount of debt advice available to people in England, and ensure services – including face-to-face provision – are built around customers’ needs. The exercise is an important step towards a more resilient debt advice sector and will drive better quality of advice and customer outcomes over the longer term. 

15 Nov 2021 | Written questions | Answered | House of Commons | 72395 


Household Debt: Key Economic Indicators – House of Commons Library (

Money and Pensions Service, Debt advice funding

Government Online, Commissioning Debt Advice in England – Money and Pensions Service, 20 July 2021

The UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing: 2020—2030, Money and Pensions Service, pages 26-29

Craig Simmons, Debt advice budget update, Money and Pensions Service, 23 March 2021

Craig Simmons, Update on debt advice funding in the wake of Covid-19, Money and Pensions Service, 2 September 2020

Craig Simmons, Update on debt advice projects driving forward our Better Debt Advice agenda for change, Money and Pensions Service, 19 November 2020

Fears over the future of free debt advice, BBC, 22 October 2021

The future of debt advice, Unite For Our Society, 08 November 2021

Debt advice shake-up in England could reduce face-to-face help, Guardian, 08 November 2021

Fighting cuts to debt advice, Red Pepper, 11 November 2021

Defending Debt Advice, Tribune, 07 November 2021

Further Reading

Advice projects will test new ways of providing debt help, Scottish Legal Aid Board, 16 March 2021

Trajectory: Horizon Scanning for Remote Debt Advice – Report prepared for the Money and Pensions Service, January 2020

Departmental Review of the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), Department for Works and Pensions, 1 November 2021

Related posts