No official statistics are kept on the number of people who are in Debt Management Plans (DMPs) in the UK. This is partly because it is a voluntary and informal process consisting of an agreement between a debtor and his creditors. The debtor may reach this agreement with or without the help of a third party such as a Debt Management Company or an organization such as CAB or CCCS.
It is nevertheless estimated that the total number of DMPs in the UK is between 700,000 and one million. The OFT on behalf of the consumer has increased its vigilance in regard to the DMP industry in recent years and it may be that it will compile statistics relating to the size of the sector. Having said that, how many people do you know in a DMP? Not many, I bet.
Historically there has been a sense of embarrassment or shame attached to having financial problems. This perhaps is because people feel that they have failed in some way and that there is a stigma attached to being publicly ‘named and shamed’. Whatever the reason, most people in financial difficulties do not want certain people to find out about it. Topping the list are probably (nosy) neighbours and employers. Extended families can be a particular source of embarrassment if they learn that you have money problems. It is not unusual that some people do not want their spouse or partner to know about their difficulties or that they also want to keep their children in the dark.
What can you do about publicity? The DMP companies who provide commercial services offer complete confidentiality and privacy in regards to your DMP. If instead you are dealing with Payplan, CAB or CCCS you should expect the same standard of service. Your own behavior will also help. Behave discreetly in your communications with your creditors and with the DMP service provider you choose to use. Your creditors will obviously have to know what your plan is to repay them. Hopefully, none of your neighbours is a creditor. It may be that your spouse or partner cannot be kept in the dark regarding your situation since your plan will have to contain an income and expenditure statement regarding your family. You may also have joint debts with your spouse or partner. In exceptional circumstances, it may be possible to keep your DMP secret from your partner, for example if there may be a threat of violence if it were disclosed. Generally however, you can control who knows about your DMP since you will have to authorize your DMP service provider to contact your creditors and negotiate on your behalf.
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