The debt advice apprenticeship

Posted 02 December 2019

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The debt advice apprenticeship, the first-of-its-kind in the UK, has been approved by the Institute of Apprenticeships.

The first cohort of advisors will start to study under the new apprenticeship, which will grant them a level 3 qualification, in April 2020.

The apprenticeship has been created by a ‘trailblazer group’ from across the debt advice sector. Members include Gregory Pennington, StepChange Debt Charity, Christians Against Poverty, PayPlan and others**. 


The new apprenticeship covers all areas of debt advice including developing a budget, supporting and signposting customers with vulnerabilities, income maximisation, debt solutions in all jurisdictions and conduct requirements.

The qualification has a rigorous three-part assessment: it is the first apprenticeship scheme to include a simulated advice session, to ensure that advisors are able to demonstrate skills such as empathy and active listening. Candidates will also take a closed book multiple choice question test and have a professional discussion with the independent assessment body, underpinned by a portfolio of work created by the apprentice. Throughout the process the apprentice must demonstrate all the knowledge, skills and behaviours required and a competence of the duties required for the role.

Organisations that contribute to the apprenticeship levy can draw on those funds to pay for the qualification. Organisations and charities that do not have to contribute to the levy will benefit from 95% of the cost being met by the government.

Sebrina McCullough, Head of External Relations at Gregory Pennington, who chairs the trailblazer group, said: “Debt advice is currently the only area of financial advice that does not have a minimum certified qualification or a threshold level standard. The introduction of this apprenticeship will fill that gap. Our aim is both to raise standards and consistency across the sector and position debt advice as an attractive professional career.

“It’s fantastic to see the sector come together to create this new apprenticeship and qualification. This is just the first step – the trailblazer group is already considering a recognised professional body for debt advisers and developing a Continuing Professional Development scheme with the potential to develop higher level qualifications in future too.”


Editor’s notes

**The organisations that have had involvement (to varying degrees) with the apprenticeship work are:

Debt Advice Providers: Angel Advance, Atlantic Finance (UK), Bright Oak Financial Solutions, Christians Against Poverty, Clifford Watts Limited, Fresh Start UK, Gregory Pennington Limited, In Control Debt Solutions, Money Advice Trust, Money Plus Group, PayPlan, Step Change Debt Charity, The Debt Advisor, Debt Support Solutions,

Training Providers: IMA, Mol Learn, PTE Group, Solvovir, Total People, The Apprenticeship Academy.

Other: DEMSA, CSA, Money and Pensions Service, Institute for Apprenticeships.

More information on the apprenticeship

  • • A Level 3 qualification in Debt Advice
  • • The scheme will be especially valuable to organisations who have less than a handful of people providing debt advice and do not have any specialised training available to them, such as local authorities
  • • 20% off the job training – which organisations are encouraged to use for specialist vulnerability training (i.e. MIND, Samaritans, Money Advice Trust)
  • • The apprenticeship is the first of its kind to be approved during the first submission to the Institute without any amendments to be made
  • • In order to complete the apprenticeship individuals are required to have English and Maths at level 2 (GCSE or equivalent)


Gregory Pennington

Gregory Pennington was established over 25 years ago. It provides customers access to free debt advice and the full range of debt solutions available in the UK. Gregory Pennington provided free debt advice to 32,000 customers in the year to April 2019.

Across all debt solutions, Gregory Pennington (and other group solution providers) are currently supporting 64,000 customers with debt solutions and 7,000 customers will complete their debt solution and leave debt free this year. We are currently managing £1.1 billion of our customers’ debt, and in 2019 we will distribute £92 million to creditors on their behalf.

*MaPS currently estimate that the debt advice gap stands at 600,000 (the number of people who would benefit from advice but are unable to receive it).

For further information, please contact: Ian Williams, Gregory Pennington

0161 605 6005 / 07808 727280 or [email protected] 

by Christine Walsh

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