Archive for Guest Blog Category
By Peter Munro
In the second blog on Payplan’s success at the recent Institute of Money Advisers conference, Peter Munro, Head of Business Development for Creditors, talks about winning the Best Partnership Award.
“Our new Mortgage Arrears Service won the Best Partnership Award at the Institute of Money Advisers conference last month. It marks a breakthrough in partnership working between the mortgage industry and free debt advice and is set to help thousands of people who are struggling with debt to keep their own homes, by helping them to better understand and manage their finances.
“Anyone referred to Payplan is offered free impartial debt advice and this new service can even be accessed before a client has any mortgage arrears to help them prioritise their payments. Either way the process can make the difference between a customer falling into arrears or even losing their home due to repossession proceedings.
“Since its inception in August 2012 we have helped over 3,000 struggling homeowners and we continue to innovate by being the first free debt advice provider to pro-actively reach out to the customers through their mortgage lenders in this way.”
Commenting on the award, Sallie Johnson, Chief Executive Officer at the IMA, said: “To be named as a finalist in any of the four categories is a remarkable achievement in itself, but to be voted as overall victor is a tremendous accolade – one which Payplan should be extremely proud of.
“It was fully evident that Payplan’s nomination demonstrated all the attributes we would hope to see in the Best Partnership category: innovative thinking, creativity in collaboration, the formation of partnerships through breakthrough techniques, effective use of resources and a willingness to explore non-traditional methods in solving age old problems. The judges were most impressed with the outcomes Payplan generated for homeowners with problematic debt, which is perhaps the most robust test of the success of any new initiative. They are worthy winners.”
By Sarah Reeve
Payplan has recently won two major awards at the Institute of Money Advisers (IMA) conference for new initiatives aimed at helping people deal with their debt. In the first of two blogs Sarah Reeve, Payplan’s Head of Business Development for the Voluntary and Corporate Sectors, talks about a charity partnership scheme that has already helped many people on low incomes repay their debts.
“We won the Best New Initiative Award for the Sustainable Debt Advice Project (SDAP) which has been led by the charity, Advice UK, with Payplan as its partner. It is a project that has provided funding to give free debt advice and repayment methods to people on low incomes – something that was badly affected by public sector spending cuts.
“Everyone involved is grateful for the recognition and the acknowledgement of the work we do in striving to provide positive outcomes for clients struggling with financial difficulties. We are especially proud to receive this tribute from the IMA, a distinguished organisation in the money advice sector.
“We began the pilot project in April last year and it ran until this March. Advice UK is the UK’s largest support network for free, independent advice centres, together with Payplan they worked with nine agencies to provide the pilot training and provided resources to help them deal with debt related issues. Funding was also provided by Friends Provident Foundation to Advice UK in support of the pilot.
“The initial rationale for the SDAP was born out of the challenges facing the free money advice sector in meeting current demand for help. It provides a service to clients who are only able to make low or token payments offers to their creditors and, through Payplan, allows them to make a single monthly payment to multiple creditors.
“We believe that the SDAP has the potential to be rolled out to other agencies looking for payment options for their clients – and receiving the IMA Award has given us even more confidence that this is the case.”
Dealing with debt can be a stressful and worrying experience. Many people find it understandably difficult to talk to their family, their friends or their colleagues about such a personal issue. Any such concerns may be magnified when contemplating entering into formal insolvency processes, such as trust deeds in Scotland for example. These processes can sometimes appear to be very complex as a result of the technical “jargon” that is often associated with them.
Online debt advice forums can be an excellent source of both knowledge and personal support in such circumstances. Our own trust deed advice forum, at Trust-Deed.co.uk, concentrates uniquely on the formal debt solutions that are available only in Scotland. In addition to forum threads about Scottish trust deeds there is also frequent online discussion about sequestration (bankruptcy in Scotland) and the Debt Arrangement Scheme (a formal alternative to a debt management plan).
The technical insolvency knowledge provided on good debt forums is typically provided by insolvency practitioners (or members of their teams) that make themselves available to answer the questions posed. This can be useful when you need to confirm a technical point but cannot speak with your own debt adviser directly. Often this arises when people have questions in the evening, at weekends, or when they are too busy at work to make a call.
Often people are also able to obtain a terrific amount of personal support from fellow visitors to online debt advice forums. Discussing issues with other people that have similar personal experiences frequently makes a difficult financial position feel much less lonely. Discovering that others have tackled their debts successfully using the same procedure that you yourself are contemplating can also be a huge source of encouragement and motivation.
Forums also provide a defence against the occasionally sales-led advice provided by certain commercial debt solutions operators. We’re sad to say that we sometimes hear from people that have been advised that protected trust deeds are suitable for their needs when in fact better alternatives are available to them. In our experience this type of poor advice often involves locking people into unsustainable contributory debt solutions that will earn the adviser comparatively high fees.
By discussing your situation in a good online debt forum you’ll be able to receive advice from a number of parties that will normally quickly identify any such malpractice or incompetent advice. Better alternatives can often be identified. Even confirming that the advice that you have already received is suitable for your needs and circumstances can be a great reassurance prior to making any final decisions.
If you’re contemplating (or are already committed to) a Scottish trust deed, sequestration or a formal Scottish Debt Arrangement Scheme you’ll be welcomed on our website if you have a question to ask or a comment to make. Representatives from a panel of Scottish insolvency practitioner firms will answer your questions. Fellow trust deed forum site members will often go out of their way to lend support to new members that are having a tough time.
Online debt forums aren’t an alternative to securing the best direct personal debt advice that you can find. However they can provide an extra layer of support, greater certainty and an element of additional protection. This can be extremely valuable as you go about making effective long-term financial decisions that you feel confident and positive about.
Earlier this year we shared the story of Emma Sheardown, the para equestrian dressage rider from Grantham, who is also a member of our marketing team. Here Emma gives an update on her latest successes.
I can’t believe where the year is going! It’s May already and I have all the winter and previous summer qualifying competitions behind me, as well as a successful international competition in Deauville, France.
My horse, Eddie, and I have achieved many 70% plus scores over the spring, which will hopefully set us in good stead for this year’s European selection. Our trip to Deauville saw a win for us and the team – which was great news.
I have been based with my trainer Angela Weiss for exactly one year now and in that time I can’t believe how both Eddie and I have improved. In a way we have started again from scratch – sometimes you have to take a step backwards to make everything more solid and take an even bigger step forward.
This has required a lot of work and attention to detail, both on and off the horse. Something that I constantly have to work on is improving my strength. Having Cerebral Palsy, the challenge has been even greater but, having said that, all this focus and work on my body has improved my physical ability too – for example my walking.
I am extremely lucky and privileged to also have my friend and Paralympic Gold and Silver medallist, Sophie Wells, ride Eddie too.
I really love my riding and the way of life that goes with it. As with all areas of life, the question of money and finance lingers so readily. Being on the World Class Performance Programme I receive Lottery funding as part of UK Sport, but this is reliant on winning medals at major championships such as Europeans, World and Paralympic Games.
At the moment, because I didn’t make it to London 2012, I am on the lowest level of funding. This is still a big help with the costs incurred in keeping my horse and myself in training, but giving the care my horse needs as a top class athlete it can sometimes stretch this income.
I am currently looking for a second horse as Eddie is fifteen and will sadly be too old to compete at the next Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
In order to be able to look after and train two horses I am currently looking to attract some sponsors who would be willing to support me in my quest to get to Rio.
There are also many costs incurred in keeping the horses healthy, these include six-weekly farrier visits, equine physio every two months, as well as twice yearly visits by the equine dentist and the vet for vaccinations. All of these costs will double with a second horse.
My weekly lesson and schooling bill for my current squad horse is covered by my squad athlete personal allowance, however, with two horses I will need to cover some of the cost myself.
One thing I have started to do, to help reduce costs, is to stay over-night in my lorry rather than making the journey home. Obviously a big cost that we all face is the rising price of fuel, so staying over a couple of nights helps to cut down on expensive journeys.
Now I have a busy six weeks ahead of me. There are two main selection trials for the European Championships in Denmark in August. Also the Para Summer Championships are held in June and there is an international competition in July. They all play an important role in the selection process.
Alongside my riding commitments I am continuing to enjoy working a few hours each week at Payplan, in the marketing team. I research and write blogs, which is something I really enjoy. It goes hand-in-hand with a journalism course I am doing. I have to admit that I find it difficult to fit my assignments around full time riding, but working for Payplan is proving to be a great experience.
In terms of my riding, attracting potential sponsors is an extremely difficult task. I have been lucky that my two newest sponsors, Blue Chip feed and Bliss Saddles, have come via recommendation. However, particularly with the current economic climate, asking for money does not sit comfortably with me.
Over the last few years I have been lucky to receive support from local businesses leading up to the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Now the task is attracting the next group of sponsors so I can achieve my goal of keeping and training a new horse and competing in Rio.