Evaluation of National Debt Helpline
The purpose of this evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of the service in helping clients achieve immediate and medium-term outcomes, and to make recommendations for service improvement. A secondary purpose was to ensure that clients are happy with telephone as a mode of service delivery, and to offer follow-up assistance to clients who need it.
The evaluation focused on clients the service had assessed as capable of self-help; clients to whom financial counsellors had given information and advice, rather than a referral for face-to-face financial counselling at another agency. This is consistent with the approach taken by consultant Carolyn Bond in her 2016 evaluation of the service, where it was considered that surveying these clients “provides the clearest indication of service impact”.
This was a mixed-methods evaluation, involving three main methods of data collection: reviewing client records, including demographic data; a short survey sent by SMS to clients soon after they accessed the service; and a more in-depth, qualitative interview with clients 3-6 months on.
We sought to make sense of the data in a collaborative way by facilitating workshops with the financial counselling team. They considered the synthesised evaluation data and helped to contextualise and understand the picture it was painting. The workshop discussions significantly informed both the conclusions and recommendations of this report.