Proposed changes to DAS payments dropped

The Scottish Government had proposed to alter the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS) that helps those struggling with repayment of debts. But Community Safety Minister Fergus Ewing has revoked the order which would have introduced the alterations.

Both Citizens Advice Scotland and Money Advice Scotland had highlighted concerns about some of the changes being proposed. The plans were due to be discussed by Holyrood’s justice committee, where Liberal Democrat MSP Robert Brown had planned to try to block them.

The intention of the Scottish Government had been to introduce the changes at the beginning of July. Instead it will now have discussions on the DAS as “a matter of urgency”.

“The appropriate thing would be to have over the summer formal consultation on this particular issue about how we improve DAS” Fergus Ewing Community Safety Minister

Further consultation on Debt Arrangement Schemes required

Mr Ewing told the committee: “I have earlier this morning signed the revocation of the statutory instrument.” He said there is a “generally recognised desire to improve the Debt Arrangement Scheme and to increase access to the DAS”.

He pointed out that in 2007 only about 260 debt payment plans had been set up through the scheme and argued that because the scheme was introduced in 2004 it was now “time to look at how it was performing”.

He said “it would be the wisest course and the sensible course to have, as a matter of urgency, a series of further discussions and further engagement in order to discuss some of the issues they have raised.

“Given the concerns raised and given the complexity of the issues, the appropriate thing would be to have over the summer formal consultation on this particular issue about how we improve Das.” That should allow ministers to “come back with a revised proposal in the autumn”.

Poor management of the proposed DAS changes

Committee convener Bill Aitken said the matter had been “dealt with in a most unhappy manner”.

The Tory told Mr Ewing there had been “scant consultation” on the changes and added that the order had been revoked “while this committee was sitting”.

Mr Ewing replied: “No discourtesy was intended and I regret it if members have been put to inconvenience.”

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