Shoosmiths has contributed to a ground-breaking report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Money Advice Trust that will help vulnerable people receive better service.
The briefing, entitled 'Lending, debt collection and mental health: ten steps for treating potentially vulnerable customers fairly' makes practical recommendations on steps creditors, agents and debt advisors 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.'
'As a major national law firm we're proud to contribute to this report and believe this is an important step for how industry deals with vulnerable people.'
The 'ten steps' that creditors are recommended to take are to ask themselves:
1. When lending, are you really complying with law and regulation on mental capacity?
2. 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)?
3. Does your mental health policy address dealing with more difficult situations including emotional distress, suicide threats, and other 'learning events'?
4. When a customer discloses a mental health problem, do your staff handle this effectively and legally?
5. When a carer discloses a mental health problem, do your staff handle this effectively and legally?
6. When asking more in-depth questions about mental health, are your specialist staff covering the key points?
7. When working with customers with different mental health problems, are your staff taking these differences into account?
8. Are you collecting medical evidence when you really need to?
9. Are you using the medical evidence you collect?
10. Do you use routine data and monitoring to improve performance, and prevent problems?
Copies of the report can be downloaded at http://www.mhdebt.info/