New reducing reoffending service announced for the South West
14 Aug 2023
A new money and debt service is set to support the successful rehabilitation of offenders across three combined territories in the South West of England. Launching in October 2023 and running for a minimum of three years, the Finance, Benefits and Debt (FBD) service will provide professional money management advice to participants referred by the Probation Service in a bid to prevent debt issues leading them back to criminality. It will operate across Devon and Cornwall, Avon and Somerset, and Dorset.
The Ministry of Justice programme will be delivered by human services provider, Ingeus, in partnership with Citizens Advice. It will help men, aged 18 and over, living on probation within the community. Services will also be provided to those still resident within the prison system, available at six regional prisons: HMP Bristol, Leyhill, Exeter, Portland, Channing Wood, and Guys Marsh.
Ingeus’s Pat Bannigan, Head of Programme Delivery within the prisons, says: “It is widely acknowledged that helping offenders deal with debt and navigate the benefits system can be key to reducing reoffending.
“Being able to support people prior to their release from prison will prevent delays in accessing benefits and setting up bank accounts to receive them. These are typically big stumbling blocks for people just out of prison. We will also offer debt guidance and financial awareness, so that participants know what they will face and have strategies to deal with it on their release. This is a huge step forward in preventing problems that we know if left unresolved can drive people back to criminal activity.”
Similarly, community-based services for people on probation will include help to understand and apply for benefits, advice on financial products and applying for a bank account, debt management, and budgeting guidance. Practical help will be provided by experienced Ingeus case workers, many of whom will have faced similar challenges to the scheme’s service users. For more complex cases, Financial Conduct Authority-accredited advisors from Citizens Advice will assist.
The FBD service forms part of the Ministry of Justice’s Commissioned Rehabilitative Services; a suite of probation system programmes designed to end the cycle of reoffending. Ingeus already delivers the FBD community-based service in the East and West Midlands, South Central Thames Valley and South Central Hampshire. It also provides education, training and employment, dependency and recovery, accommodation, and personal wellbeing services to people on probation.
“Managing finances is a major barrier for people trying to rebuild their lives,” explains Carrie Peters, Director of Justice Services at Ingeus. “People leaving custody are likely to be at the extreme end of the cost of living struggle, probably unemployed and living in temporary accommodation. Ensuring meaningful support is available both before and immediately following release is key to tackling reoffending behaviour.
“We are delighted to be bringing our experience to the South West region and working with established experts, Citizens Advice, who help people daily with their money problems. Together we will be helping men to turn away from crime, building better lives for themselves and their families and strengthening rehabilitation within their local communities.”
The FBD contract will launch on 17 October 2023 and will currently run until April 2026.
Commissioned Rehabilitative Services - Justice | Ingeus