The Government's management of its programme to help people struggling with debt was today branded a “complete failure” by MPs.
The Public Accounts Committee said management of the Government's over-indebtedness strategy was “seriously deficient”, with no one put in charge of it, while groups that were meant to oversee it failed to meet.
It said there had been no reporting on its progress since 2007, while the strategy had also not been evaluated to assess whether its goals were being achieved or how effective it was.
One in 10 people are currently struggling to stay on top of their debts, and consumers collectively owe £1.5 trillion.
The Government launched an over-indebtedness strategy in 2004 to try to offer more support to people who were struggling with their debts and to reduce the number of people who got into difficulties.
Edward Leigh, chairman of the committee, said: “Unfortunately, the management of this strategy has been a complete failure.
“The Government created a myriad of different interventions, 51 in total, but the arrangements for co-ordinating them have not worked and no-one has been in charge.
“Despite being in place for more than six years, the over-indebtedness strategy has never been evaluated to see whether it is working and since 2007 there has not been a single progress report.”
But the committee said there was “one noticeable gleam of light” in the strategy, and this was the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' project to offer face-to-face debt advice to people. It said people who had used the service had liked it, while it had also helped more people than planned, and for less than was budgeted.
But it warned that the programme, which is funded through the Treasury's Financial Inclusion Fund and delivered through groups such as Citizens Advice, was starting to struggle as |demand for debt advice was |outstripping BIS's capacity to |provide it.