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DRAFT

FINANCE, BENEFIT AND DEBT


PURPOSE
Probation
To provide information on the objective set for the NPS, by the Reducing Re-
offending National Action Plan, to work to provide improved access to financial Circular
services and advice for offenders.
REFERENCE NO:
To seek feedback from Areas on existing good practice in the local provision of 09/2005
financial advice related services and also to seek views on the specific areas to
be considered in the development of national guidance on Finance, Benefit and ISSUE DATE:
Debt. 7 February 2005

ACTION IMPLEMENTATION DATE:


Chief Officers and relevant staff are asked to: Immediate
• Note the contents of this circular
• Ensure that a response to the questionnaire attached as Appendix 1 to EXPIRY DATE:
this circular is submitted to the NPD by 4 March 2005. February 2010

SUMMARY TO:
This circular forms part of the NPS’ response to the Reducing Re-offending
Chairs of Probation Boards
National Action Plan. We are seeking to develop national guidance on Finance,
Chief Officers of Probation
Benefit and Debt for the National Probation Service and NOMS. This circular
aims to both define the specific areas to be considered in the guidance and to Secretaries of Probation Boards
obtain feedback from areas on the good practice that has been undertaken. Regional Managers
This work phase has a target date of March 2005 for completion. We aim to Regional What Works Managers
issue national guidance that will include examples of existing good practice
which has been identified, to assist areas in the effective delivery of this work. CC:
In addition, we will also feed back to areas an overview of the collated Board Treasurers
information from the responses to the questionnaire. Target date for the issue
of guidance is May 2005. AUTHORISED BY:
Martin Copsey, Head of
This circular does not cover the issue of Money Payment Supervision Orders Community Reintegration
(MPSOs). PC04/2005, issued on 10 January 2005, provides guidance in this
area and should be read in conjunction with this circular where an offender is ATTACHED:
subject to a MPSO.
Appendix 1 (part of Word file)

RELEVANT PREVIOUS PROBATION CIRCULARS


PC04/2005 Money Payment Supervision Orders

CONTACT FOR ENQUIRIES


marcus.smart@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk (020 7217 0766)

National Probation Directorate


Horseferry House, Dean Ryle Street, London, SW1P 2AW General Enquiries: 020 7217 0659 Fax: 020 7217 0660

Enforcement, rehabilitation and public protection


BACKGROUND

The NPS involvement in Finance, Benefit and Debt issues has not been considerable or consistent in recent years, but
the Reducing Re-offending National Action Plan requires this area of work to be given a higher priority. This circular
forms part of the NPS’ response to the Finance, Benefit and Debt pathway. The NPD is working to assist areas to provide
improved access to financial services and advice for offenders, to ensure that an appropriate response is provided to any
identified financial need to aid resettlement. We will issue guidance to assist areas in developing partnerships with key
voluntary and other organisations that specialise in the provision of advice on the management of money.

The Social Exclusion Report highlighted the number of prisoners with benefit and debt problems. The report indicated
that:
• 72% of prisoners were in receipt of benefits before going into prison.
• 25% said they needed help with benefit and debts.
• 48% had a history of debt.
• 33% of prisoners said their existing debt problem worsened in prison.

In the short term, no new resources will be available to develop the guidance, so a key theme will be making use of
existing resources already available in the community or through existing partnerships.

We are seeking the views of areas by 4 March 2005. A response template is attached as Appendix 1. The template sets
out the questions used in this circular.

Key aspects of the guidance

1) Debt counselling services. These are services aimed primarily at providing both a short and longer term casework
provision to offenders who have got into debt. There is an overlap with the section on maximising benefits.

Key questions for areas


a) Does your area provide this type of service either in-house or in partnership? If so, please provide brief details
outlining type of service, usage and costs?
b) Does your area promote the usage of debt counselling services available in the community?
c) Is there a shortage of this form of service in your area or are there other issues in accessing this type of service?

2) Maximising benefits and income. These are arrangements either in-house or with independent agencies or
Jobcentre Plus to enable offenders to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate benefits. There has been a long-term
debate in advice circles on whether this service should be provided by independent agencies or through Jobcentre Plus
and we are aware of the different approaches taken by areas.

Key questions for areas


a) Does your area provide this type of service either in-house or in partnership? If so, please provide brief details
outlining type of service, usage and costs?
b) Does your area promote the usage of services promoting benefit maximisation that are available in the
community?
c) Is there a shortage of this form of service in your area or are there other issues in accessing this type of service?

3) Money management. These are arrangements that assist offenders to better manage their money. They may be
called budgeting or life skills programme. They have been run in the past through Approved Premises and there are a
large number of tools available in the community, some linked to basic skills learning. An example is the Basic Skills
Agency CD-ROM ‘Merry Go Round - money management skills for everyone’. We have funded the SWing (South West
Integration Team) resettlement partnership to explore the development of a money management tool that can be used in
custody and in the community.

Key questions for areas


a) Does your area provide any form of money management learning for offenders? If so, please provide details.
b) Does your area use any specific money management tools? If so, please provide details?
c) Is this learning linked to basic skills provision? Please give details.

4) Access to bank accounts. Offenders can struggle to open bank accounts. The government universal bank account
can be used for the payment of benefits but employers are unable to pay wages into them. The Prison Service is
undertaking work to look at access to bank accounts for prisoners. NPD is aware from discussion with areas of local
partnership work taking place on promoting bank accounts.

PC09/2005 –Finance, Benefit and Debt


Key question
a) Is your area engaged in any work to promote access to bank accounts? Please give examples?
b) Have your area identified any common problems with offenders opening bank accounts? Please provide details.

5) Additional information. We are interested in a range of other issues relating to this theme. These include access to
loans through credit unions, usage of local schemes that promote better money management etc. Some areas have
developed policies in this area of work, have partnership arrangements and have prepared reports to their Boards. If you
have an existing policy on finance, benefit and debt or any other written documents in this area we would be grateful if
you could please attach copies of these when submitting your response to the questionnaire at Appendix 1.

We would also like to hear from areas that have funded this type of work through other means, besides partnership
budgets. We are aware, for instance, of some ESF funded projects which have been developed to respond to this need.
Again, we would be grateful if you could please submit details of ESF or any other funded work in this area.

Returns

Please send your returns to Marcus Smart (marcus.smart@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk) by 4 March 2005.

PC09/2005 –Finance, Benefit and Debt


Appendix 1

Name of Probation Area:


Contact name and number:

1. Debt Counselling Services

a) Does your area provide this type of service either in-house or in partnership? Yes/No. If so, please
provide brief details outlining type of service, usage and costs?

b) Does your area promote the usage of debt counselling services available in the community? Yes/No

c) Is there a shortage of this form of service in your area or are there other issues in accessing this type of
service? Yes/No

PC09/2005 –Finance, Benefit and Debt


2. Maximising Benefits & Income

a) Does your area provide this type of service either in-house or in partnership? Yes/No. If so, please
provide brief details outlining type of service, usage and costs?

b) Does your area promote the usage of services promoting benefit maximisation that are available in the
community? Yes/No.

c) Is there a shortage of this form of service in your area or are there other issues in accessing this type of
service? Yes/No

PC09/2005 –Finance, Benefit and Debt


3. Money Management

a) Does your area provide any form of money management learning for offenders? Yes/No. If so, please
provide details.

b) Does your area use any specific money management tools? Yes/No. If so, please provide details?

c) Is this learning linked to basic skills provision? Yes/No. Please give details.

PC09/2005 –Finance, Benefit and Debt


4. Access To Bank Accounts

a) Is your area engaged in any work to promote access to bank accounts? Yes/No. Please give examples.

b) Has your area identified any common problems with offenders opening bank accounts? Yes/No. Please
provide details.

PC09/2005 –Finance, Benefit and Debt