SEA launches innovative six month pilot scheme to provide single point of credit support

Surviving Economic Abuse (SEA) has launched an innovative six month pilot scheme, with funding from the Money and Pensions Service, aimed at reducing the number of interactions many women face when dealing with creditors after experiencing economic abuse from an intimate partner.

One in six women have experienced economic abuse and six in ten are coerced into taking out debt by a current or former partner. As a result many women must on average contact five different creditors and negotiate with all of them individually and tell their story and background multiple times. This can lead to distress for the victims caused by inconsistent outcomes from the creditors as many do not have the resource to thoroughly review all the cases put before them.

This can result in some debts being written off and other requests being declined and often with little information to support the rationale for the decision.

SEA has therefore launched The Economic Abuse Evidence Form (EAEF), which provides a single mechanism via a money/debt advisor who communicates to a creditor that their client has experienced economic abuse. The form helps verify the evidence of coerced debt and means that the victim only has to tell their story to a money/debt advisor once instead of on multiple occasions.

The form itself will be rolled out to creditors and has been designed with input from victims and survivors and draws on the specialist knowledge of Money Advice Plus (MAP) in supporting the domestic abuse victims and survivors with debt issues. It also draws on a screening tool for economic abuse used by MAP and Solace Women’s Aid (piloted with 288 victims) as part of SEA’s founding Economic Justice Project.

SEA has appointed Jo Trask as project lead, who will be chairing a steering group of experts including the Money and Pensions Service, StepChange and Refuge to roll out the pilot.

SEA Project Lead Jo Trask said “SEA’s mission is to raise awareness of economic abuse and transform responses to it. The six month pilot we are launching will form a key part of our programme to deliver on that commitment.

“MAP advisors will use the EAEF to compile and submit evidence to creditors in cases where victims and survivors have experienced at least one form of coerced debt. The evidence from the first six months of phase 1 will feed into a review process in phase 2 over a 8-16 month period.

“One of our key objectives is that 90% of victims and survivors accessing the EAEF form feel positive and back in control of lives and finances as a result of using it.”

Sarah Porretta, Strategy and Insights Director at the Money and Pensions Service said: “The excellent work of the SEA and their EAEF pilot scheme has our full support and we have helped to fund the launch of the form and its roll out to debt advice services.

“People need clear guidance to receive the financial support they require and there has been a clear rise in money worries since the pandemic started. We know that people suffering from economic abuse may find it trickier to reach out for help so the form that the SEA has developed will help victims of economic abuse better manage their debts and finances by simplifying the route to the support they receive.”

“The EAEF complements the government bill on Domestic Abuse and our own commitment to support people who are vulnerable and face financial difficulty through our UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing. We look forward to continuing to work closely with SEA and wider industry in this area.”