HC Deb 21 January 2003 vol 398 c233W
Mr. Lazarowicz

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on the progress of the National Debtline. [90847]

Miss Melanie Johnson

The National Debtline aims to deliver free specialist debt advice and a debt repayment planning service to consumers in financial difficulty. I launched the pilot project on 14 March 2002. It was funded with £1 million from the Invest to Save Budget, and £50,000 each from the DTI, Scottish Executive and the Lord Chancellor's Department. The credit industry contributed a further £850,000.

As of 14 January 2003, the National Debtline had given advice to 22,648 clients (from telephone, e-mail and face-to-face services). Of these, 19,582 clients were from England, 1,853 from Scotland and 984 from Wales.

My officials are currently carrying out an evaluation of the National Debtline, which will establish: the strength of the business case for national, independent, free, telephone money advice services; and the best balance between a single national contact centre and smaller centres around the country.