Orbit helps customers manage over £1m debt

Orbit has helped its customers to manage over £1m debt via its Better Days programme.

Releasing the figures ahead of national Debt Awareness Week, Orbit revealed that from April 2023 to the end of December 2023 it had helped customers manage £1.1m of debt, by offering them free advice and guidance on regaining control of their finances and managing their debt in an affordable and sustainable way.

This debt advice service is part of Orbit’s Better Days programme which offers a range of free services to every customer designed to support financial and digital inclusion, mental wellbeing, employment and skills.

Lucy McGovern, Head of Thriving Communities commented: “The theme of this year’s Debt Awareness Week is to look at the barriers that prevent people from accessing the right advice, so I’m really pleased that our Better Days programme is helping to tackle some of these barriers by working with our customers to offer free and effective advice.

“In the first three quarters of this year we’ve helped people to manage over £1m of debt that would otherwise be having an adverse impact on their quality of life and their ability to maintain their tenancies. The monetary impact on the household is clear but supporting people to develop their financial capability has a profound effect on their overall wellbeing too.

“Helping people to manage their debt in an affordable way, gives households the space to regain control of their often-changing circumstances and empowers customers to gain the skills and confidence to manage their own finances in the future.”

Research conducted by Orbit in summer 2023 revealed that the cost-of-living crisis had left three times more renters than owners ‘worrying all the time’ about meeting everyday costs. Nearly a third (31%) of all responders were skipping meals to reduce costs, whilst nearly three quarters said that they had either turned the heating down (75%) or off completely (72%) during the winter months.

Orbit has introduced a number of new services as part of its Better Days programme to help customers manage the pressure of cost-of-living increases. This included an Energy Advice Service in partnership with National Energy Action (NEA), a Welfare Advice Service provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau, a new cost-of-living support and education hub on Orbit’s customer website and an increased capacity in its mental health support service, Breathing Space, which is commissioned with Mind and Aspire4u.

Orbit Customer Case Study

Anna* disclosed that she had recently left her partner and following their split, she realised he had been taking out credit in her name... Her partner took control of her bank cards claiming he wanted to ‘take care of her’ and he didn't want her to ‘worry about a thing’. The situation escalated and she couldn’t make a single purchase without his permission including fuel for her car or nappies for her baby. She tried to leave the relationship many times, but every time he made her stay by threatening to report her to social services due to her poor mental health... When she was finally able to leave him, it became apparent that he had been obtaining credit in her name whilst controlling her bank accounts and financial situation. Orbit’s debt advice service used the Economic Abuse Evidence Form to apply for these debts (totalling around £3k) to be written off on the grounds of economic abuse. The customer provided a statement detailing the impact the abuse had had on her mental health to support this request. Over £1k of the outstanding debt has already been written off, with decisions pending from the remaining creditors.

Thank you so much for your help, I really appreciate it and just having someone listen to me and understand is already making me feel better.”

*name changed