Debt advice for employees should be provided by employers

Employers have been urged do more to help staff with money problems after a debt charity reported a sharp rise in calls to its helpline.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) today revealed that 93,000 people called it for help with their debts in the first three months of 2010 – compared to 69,432 for the same period last year. It said employers are in “an important position to help” those who find themselves facing unmanageable debt.

The charity urged organisations to encourage staff with debt problems to seek help immediately, referring staff to free sources of debt advice to prevent them from going to companies who will charge them for dealing with their debt problems.

Delroy Corinaldi, external affairs director at CCCS, said: “The UK’s personal debt problem is likely to get far worse over the next year, and employers are in an important position to help staff who have a debt problem.

“This doesn’t have to mean speaking to employees individually, as those with debt problems are likely to feel very private about their finances and may not reveal they have a problem, while suggesting staff have a debt problem could be intrusive. Instead, employers can help them by providing information on noticeboards and in staff magazines that signposts them to where they can get free debt advice and support.”

The government was last year urged to introduce legislation to force employers to offer personal financial education programmes to their staff, alongside tax breaks and grants for companies that introduce workplace training. The call came in a report, by insurer Axa, which argued that a £120m-per-year government investment in financial education in the workplace could increase long-term economic stability, while reducing absenteeism.

A number of leading employers are already offering staff financial education, taking advantage of schemes offered by bodies such as the Financial Services Authority.

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