By Alan McIntosh
Most money advisers have only recently pulled themselves off the ropes from changes introduced by the Debt Arrangement Scheme and the new DASH system, after reeling from the one, two jabs of changes to personal insolvency and repossession law, introduced by the Home Owner and Debtor Protection (Scotland) Act 2010.
Staggering from one side to another, most weak at the knees, they have in the last few months been hit with the body blows of the Protected Trust Deed Guidance, then the head shot of the Scottish Law Commissions plans to consolidate Scotland’s Bankruptcy laws; the knockout uppercut blow now threatens to come from the AIB’s new consultation on Bankruptcy Law Reform.
Many of you may be thinking, what’s going on and I am thinking the same. Dizzy with stars and tweety birds dancing around my head, it seems a distant memory to think that only five years ago the largest piece of legislation to pass through the Scottish Parliament, already substantially reformed this area of law.
There can be no denying that one of the benefits of the Scottish Parliament was we got a legislature who could spend more time on our laws and legislate to modernise them, but it feels like we have gone from watching glaciers move, to being in the Hollywood film 2012.
It’s hardly the Mayan calendar’s end of day’s doomsday scenario, but there is a sense throughout the Scottish debt sector that the platelets are beginning to move.
The proposals contained in the new consultation document are far reaching and depending on the form any final bill takes, the changes could be more fundamental than anything to date: no easy feat, after six major acts of parliament in ten years.
The new proposals are:
- The creation of a new financial health service;
- The introduction of a single financial assessment tool for all remedies (DAS, Protected Trust Deeds and Sequestration);
- A single online application hub giving money advisers access to all debt relief and management remedies;
- A new role for the AIB to approve the debt relief or management option chosen by debtors;
- The creation of new debt relief and management remedies;
- A requirement to receive advice before choosing an option and a requirement for financial education before obtaining a discharge; and
- The exclusion of child maintenance arrears and credit union debts from debt relief remedies.
As we launch this new Money Advice Community website for Scottish Money Advisers, we will be encouraging discussion and debate on the subject matters that are being consulted on and also publishing more articles that look at the individual topics involved.
We encourage you to contribute to the debate and discussions as they arise and share your experience and knowledge, as there is one thought worth bearing in mind: if we get it wrong this time, we may just have to start again.