what to expect
We draw our clients from residents and workers within the Bedford Borough boundaries. Clients may refer themselves to our service or be referred through another agency. (If you are referring from another organisation we will usually ask for a completed referral form, and you should have gained the explicit permission of the client to do so).
There are a number of steps in the debt advice process:
- We try to ensure that clients are maximising their income and applying for everything to which they are entitled.
- We then look at expenditure and see if there is anything that can be done to reduce outgoings that are unusually high.
- The next step is to identify and quantify all debts, dealing with those that have the most serious potential consequences first.
- We explain to the clients the options available to resolve their debt problems and recommend a solution. It is always up to the client to make the decision as to how they want to proceed, and which path to opt for.
Debt solutions available may, depending on circumstances, include formal insolvency such as bankruptcy or a Debt Relief Order (DRO). One of our advisers is accredited by the Government’s Insolvency Service as a DRO Intermediary and this enables us to offer the whole process from within our service.
We are also able to help clients complete bankruptcy applications on-line, or negotiate with their creditors and arrange payment schedules. Our service is free and strictly confidential. All client information is kept in locked cabinets or on a purpose built, secure internet platform. We will not disclose any element of the client’s case to anyone, even the referring organisation, without specific permission.
Initially, clients are contacted with general information regarding the debt advice process, what we need from them, and how and when we will be in touch. At the first appointment, whether telephone, Zoom or in person, we talk to clients regarding their individual situation and explain our service and the regulatory framework in which we operate. If they wish to work with us, we will ask clients to sign and return an agreement and an authorisation to act on their behalf. Copies of this authorisation will be sent to each of their creditors, to allow us to speak with them on the client‘s behalf.
The first appointment may last up to an hour and there will usually be follow-up meetings over several weeks depending on clients’ particular money problems. Advisers may also contact the client by post, telephone, email or Zoom between formal appointments.
If we feel we cannot help with all or some of the client’s problems, we will refer them to another agency, having obtained their consent.
We will continue to see clients until their debt situation is resolved or improved or they, themselves, feel they no longer want or need our support.