This study focuses on debt advisory services, especially on how access to and quality of services can be improved. The study identifies successful debt counselling measures and outlines the conditions that contribute to good practice. Building on an earlier working paper, the study brings together international data and literature on the topic, providing an overview and a comparative perspective. Most importantly, the research draws on evidence from country studies in Hungary, Ireland, Portugal and Sweden. Each country study includes case studies of specific debt advisory services.
Household over-indebtedness is among the causes of the current financial crisis. In turn, the crisis exacerbated both public and private debt problems. In this paper, household over-indebtedness is broadly defined as the situation where a household cannot comply with payment requirements – whether it be mortgage, utility or consumer credit payments – on a structural basis. Different types of over-indebtedness are interrelated in complex causal networks with a broad spectrum of social and health issues such as poverty, social exclusion, unemployment and labour productivity. Appropriate service provision can alleviate the problem once it has occurred, or can prevent debts from becoming problematic in the first place. This paper discusses the need for policymakers and society at large to scale up the quality of these social services. A workshop report is available.