“I’ve tried to get help but there’s a 10 week waiting list to see a Money Advisor.”
“I am getting so many final warning letters that I’ve simply stopped opening them.”
“Interest and charges are going up every day. I don’t even know how much I owe now.”
“I’m very anxious and my health is suffering.”
These are just some of the cries for help from people in Glasgow who are struggling with debt and have reached a point of crisis. I know that, because over the last few months we have spent a lot of time at Castlight talking to people about debt and we have listened, with real concern, to their stories.
And I’m really proud to be able to say that we channelled that concern into action and last month partnered with the Big Issue Invest (BII) and Advice Direct Scotland (ADS) to launch an affordability tool, specifically designed to empower people struggling with debt to take control of their own data and get their lives back on track.
The tool we developed is a version of our Affordability Passport, called the Big View. It’s at a pilot stage just now, accessible through the ADS helpline in Glasgow, but the initial signs are very encouraging.
360-Degree View of Finances
The way The Big View works is similar to the Affordability Passport. It uses the same open banking technology to allow users to get an in-depth, 360-degree view of their finances. In just a few clicks, the user’s financial position is set out in over 150 clear categories of income, debt, discretionary and non-discretionary spending.
If the user wishes, he or she can choose to share the Big View report with an ADS adviser who will then work with them to interpret the findings and develop solutions.
For ADS advisers the Big View is transformative. The Big View report will immediately flag up critical debt cases and therefore ensure that the people who need help the most can be helped quickest. Advisers have the data that allows them to prioritise and they also have detailed, accurate information on which to base their advice. They don’t have to rely on information given to them by the client – who may well have a pile of those unopened final warning letters on the kitchen table.
Path Out of Debt
Since the Big View launched last month, I know there are now people in my city, getting up in the morning, without the oppression of debt anxiety pressing down on them. They may not be clear of debt yet, but the path out of debt has been charted and they are now in control. That’s a very good start.
Charities and other organisations in the debt space consistently report there are currently over 8 million adults in the UK who have a problem with debt. That’s one in six adults.
I am confident that the Big View will prove to be instrumental in reducing that deeply worrying statistic. We are encouraged by the success of the Glasgow pilot so far and are looking forward to moving on to roll out the Big View throughout the UK.
For more information, visit, castlightfinancial.com or tweet @Castlight using the hashtag #TheBigView.