Ministers quizzed in Commons on problem debt

Bristol South MP Karin Smyth called on government Ministers to explain to MPs their strategy for addressing problem debt, as figures show nearly a fifth of adults in her constituency have fallen behind on bill payments in recent months.

The Labour MP used House of Commons Business Questions (13 October) to request a debate which would help shed light on the government’s position and strategy on problem debt.

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She highlighted a summit she has organised with Money Advice Service on Friday 14 October, bringing together a number of Bristol money advice organisations, aimed at finding more effective ways of encouraging local people with debt problems to seek advice.

Responding in the Commons, Minister David Lidington MP conceded problem debt is an issue across the country, but indicated the government’s position centres around advice being provided by voluntary agencies, rather than by central government.

Karin Smyth says: “Voluntary organisations do a really good job advising people who approach them for help, but a major challenge is ensuring people who are in debt to come forward to get help and support. If government took some responsibility with a joined-up strategy, rather than placing the onus on the voluntary sector, there would be real practical and proactive help for people who find themselves struggling with debt.”

Mr Lidington promised Ministers will write to Karin Smyth outlining their position.

For more about the debt summit organised by Karin Smyth MP and Money Advice Service here

You can watch the exchange below