Welcome to the first edition of our new DAS newsletter for those who work with, are involved in or simply interested in the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) and how it is progressing.
We plan to issue newsletters on a quarterly basis which will:
It is now one year since the Debt Arrangement Scheme was improved and re-launched, opening access to the scheme to make it a possible solution for many more Scots struggling with debt. A year on, the DAS team at Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) has so far processed in excess of:
NB: these are provisional figures - subject to revision following publication of DAS Review
That's significant progression compared to the one DPP that was approved in 2004/05 when the scheme was first introduced.
Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Fergus Ewing MSP, recently commented on the latest official insolvency statistics for Scotland for quarter 1 of 2012-13, including the popularity of the Debt Arrangement Scheme.
The biggest challenge for everyone this year has been getting to grips with the new IT system, the Debt Arrangement Scheme Hub – better known as DASH. For some - advisers and creditors alike - feedback suggests it has been a real improvement to your way of working with DAS to help keep track of case progression including payment history once a case is approved. For others, it continues to present daily challenges. We’ve delivered some training sessions and from feedback on these and your experiences throughout the year, we’ve introduced System User Guides for each of the delivery partners for DAS. These contain a simple step by step approach to DASH as well as some handy hints for getting the most out of the system.
AiB's DAS team continues to develop its knowledge, skills and processes to continually improve the service we deliver to you, our stakeholders. Here, we give you some insight into a typical working day for the DAS team from the perspective of DAS Case Officers, Janice Lockhart and Michelle Murdoch:
"We are early starters in the DAS team, usually in the office by 7.30am. We need an early start to work on emails, queries and cases before the phones start ringing at 9am. We also find that coffee helps!
On a daily basis, up to eight DAS case officers, supported by four case managers and our team leader work on the team. As well as dealing with phone calls and answering emails, we could be reviewing new applications, sending out letters to persistent creditors or processing a change of creditor where a debt has been sold on. Now that the online DAS case management system (DASH) has been running for a year, more new cases are being accepted first time. Money advisers have been doing well to make sure that the details are right before submitting applications which is critical to ensure the first payment is made within 30 days and prevent the DPP from being revoked.
The days can get pretty hectic - dealing with telephone calls to and from debtors, money advisers or creditors. Some examples of the calls we deal with include:
4.30pm is home-time for some of us. Several DAS team members work part time so if you need to contact us, it’s best to contact the DAS Helpline rather than an individual case officer to ensure someone can help you straight away. The answers to many of the questions we are frequently asked can be found our website, so do please check the FAQ page. If you can't find the answer to your question there, then feel free to call us on 0300 200 2770.
Over the last year the team has enjoyed the opportunity to meet with stakeholders and provide training to them where requested. Stakeholders have also spent a day in the office with us too. These events give us an opportunity to exchange ideas and get a better perspective of how we affect each others jobs on a daily basis. We’d like to see more creditors taking up this opportunity so if you would like to find out more about DAS and how we can help you, contact the DAS Helpline on 0300 200 2770 or email the DAS enquiries mailbox."
Years of struggling to cope with debt finally took its toll on James Davies** from Glasgow until he sought advice and decided to tackle the problem...
After five years of borrowing to pay bills, when James Davies from Glasgow suffered a major heart attack in 2005, he soon realised that the strain of being in debt was taking a hugely dangerous toll on his health. He said: “As the bills and letters from creditors kept arriving, all I seemed to be able to do was to apply for more and more credit to cover them. Looking back, this was a stupid thing to do but I felt under such an enormous amount of pressure to keep on top of things that in my mind this became my only option. Eventually it all became too much and I felt as though I was drowning. All I could think about was money and how I could pay my next bill. It really did become a constant worry so when I found out I had a heart problem which could be impacted by stress, I knew that I needed help and quickly.”
James made the decision to contact the Citizens Advice Bureau who directed him to the right help and arranged for him to access the Debt Arrangement Scheme. For James and his family, this was a decision that would change all of their lives for the better.
“Getting this professional advice meant that I was immediately pointed in the right direction of how to best manage my ongoing bills and my debts and I now know that I am on the right track for being debt free in the future which is an incredible relief. The whole set up with the Debt Arrangement Scheme has been very simple and now I currently pay a manageable amount to my DAS payments distributor every month, who deals with all the creditors on my behalf. It's a huge weight off my shoulders to know that 18 months into my DPP I’m paying back my debts and am finally able to get on with my life without the strain of debt hanging over me.”
**name changed to protect the identity of the debtor
The new DAS Review Board
To maintain our approach to continuous improvement, AiB will lead a forum for stakeholders and practitioners to be known as the DAS Review Board. The Board will gather sector wide experience and contributions to ensure consistency and best practice in DAS. Invitations have recently been circulated to relevant stakeholder groups to request representatives for the Review Board. If you would like to take part please contact your professional or regulatory body or contact Karen Halford
DAS Review Project
AiB committed to undertake a review of DAS 12 months after the revised regulations were introduced to ensure that changes implemented had been effective. Work on the review will begin in August with a series of workshops to explore your views on how you think DAS is working. Your views are important to us, to help us better understand the impact of DAS and we welcome any suggestions. Places will be limited but if you would like to take part in these workshops, please contact Karen Halford Senior DAS Manager.
Is there anything you would particularly like to see in a newsletter that would help you understand DAS better or get an idea of the wider DAS experience? Just let us know and we will try to accommodate your request for information by including it in future newsletters.
We look forward to continuing to work together and welcome your feedback on any aspect of DAS: