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Debt Free London & The Skills Network

Details: Written by Laura Cottle |

Debt Free London are a unique partnership of charities led byToynbee Hall, and they provide free advice and support to Londoners facing money problems and debts.

Before COVID-19, there were more than a million people in London who faced money troubles. As the pandemic continues to evolve, the figures are looking to rise even further with 92% more clients looking for work and a whole generation of young Londoners out of work for the first time.

Regrettably, COVID-19 has put pressure on people’s incomes like never-before, and issues around debt are at an all-time high. The economic fallout has meant that a large number of people have experienced job loss, reduced income, savings depletion, or simply being excluded from government protection (furlough scheme, welfare support and payment deferrals). The pandemic has transformed the client-advisor experience, the market, and the world as we know it. This has meant that an increase in the level of staff development at Debt Free London has been critical to their business needs in order to service the extra demand for help.

Reports suggest that their service levels could triple in the next year or so, and as a result they need to get ahead and urgently grow their number of debt advisors. They required a more fundamental change going forward to ramp up training programs and continue to produce some of the finest debt advisors in the capital. And that’s where The Skills Network (TSN) came in. The Skills Network is one of the country’s leading distance learning providers who offer high-quality funded training courses, providing the best preparation to their customers.

The Skills Network were able to provide the staff at Debt Free London with the tools and confidence needed to prepare them for their job role. However, training staff can take a long time, and with cases in debt worries rising rapidly as COVID-19 continued to devastate the financial world, time was of the essence. Additional training courses for businesses of this level normally take up to 12 weeks to complete.

However, through tailored learning, TSN successfully trained 60 trainee Debt Counsellors with a Level 2 Information, Advice and Guidance course in just two weeks.

Some of these staff also went on to study additional CPD (Continued Professional Development) courses at no cost too.

It is predicted that the additional training delivered to staff has increased their capacity by a huge 85% in the coming months.

As Debt Free London prepare themselves for a vast increase in demand coming their way, they can now meet those demands more accurately and efficiently with their 60+ new debt advisors, all thanks to the extraordinary training provided by The Skills Network.

Kate Barron, Operations Manager/Senior Operations Director at Debt Free London said:

"The country has faced unprecedented times in the past year. Prior to the pandemic, 1.4m Londoners held a problem debt. We now know the financial impact has been devastating, with close to 700,000 people in the UK forced into poverty due to the pandemic.

When emergency measures such as furlough and payment holidays end in April, we anticipate the need for debt advice to increase by 300%. In anticipation of this, we hired 60 new trainee debt advisors in order to be prepared for the demand on our services, and their training was a top priority

A course of this magnitude would usually take several months to complete – but that was time we didn’t have. With the flexibility that The Skills Network provided, via a comprehensive virtual course, our new trainee debt advisors received vital training that helped equip them for their new roles.

Investment in training our employees truly showed how much we value our team, as well as being able to support so

many people using our services during this difficult time. We’re grateful for the support The Skills Network offered, and their flexibility to deliver efficient virtual training."

Stuart Allen, Executive Director of Curriculum and Quality at The Skills Network said:

"This project was a perfect combination of an employer who deeply cared about the preparation of their new employees, and a training provider who was able to provide high quality learning to help their future employees develop the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed in their job roles.

Through the blended approach of e-learning and a committed expert tutor, the learners were provided with the tools and confidence needed for their specific job role, as well as gaining accredited Level 2 qualifications in ‘Information, Advice and Guidance’.

Overall, 60 learners achieved a Level 2 qualification and 60 employees are now ready to flourish in their new job role. This is why we do what we do - sentiment."