Shoosmiths has contributed to a report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Money Advice Trust that will help vulnerable people receive better service.
The report, entitled ‘Lending, debt collection and mental health: 10 steps for treating potentially vulnerable customers fairly’, makes practical recommendations on steps that creditors, agents and debt advisers can take to engage with and help vulnerable people handle debt situations and reach amicable outcomes for them.
Shoosmiths recoveries services partner Jenny Ogden said: ‘It is vital lenders know how to use discretion and sensitivity towards vulnerable people when recovering debt. It is important that employees at grass-roots level are aware of their organisations’ policies and procedures and how to be of best assistance to those who are vulnerable.’
The 10 steps that creditors are recommended to take are to ask themselves:
- When lending, are you really complying with law and regulation on mental capacity?
- Do you have a written policy on working with customers with mental health problems (as required by the implications of fully complying with the Data Protection Act 1998)?
- Does your mental health policy address dealing with more difficult situations including emotional distress, suicide threats and other ‘learning events’?
- When a customer discloses a mental health problem, do your staff handle this effectively and legally?
- When a carer discloses a mental health problem, do your staff handle this effectively and legally?
- When asking more in-depth questions about mental health, are your specialist staff covering the key points?
- When working with customers with different mental health problems, are your staff taking these differences into account?
- Are you collecting medical evidence when you really need to?
- Are you using the medical evidence you collect?
- Do you use routine data and monitoring to improve performance and prevent problems?