Together with banco, Bank is the initiator of Platform Schuldhulpverlening, an expert group for municipalities in the field of debt assistance, early signaling and debt prevention. Delft is one of the municipalities affiliated to the expert group. Mieke Robben, consultant work and income in Delft, is enthusiastic: ‘In the Expert Group we broaden our knowledge and we generate ideas about how we can strengthen our own debt assistance.’
The Debt Counseling Platform arose from the desire to discuss ideas and current affairs with municipalities and involved organizations and to list the consequences for the practice. The organization is in the hands of Bank and banco. The Platform is a creative think tank with attention for policy and organizational aspects of debt counseling and early signaling, but also for practical instruments and solutions for implementation. We asked Mieke Robben about her experiences.
What was the reason for the municipality of Delft to seek affiliation with the Platform?
Mieke: ‘When I started working at the municipality of Delft 2 years ago, the registration for the platform already existed. Because I started working on debt counseling, among other things, I went to the meetings from February 2017, mainly to gain knowledge and to share.’
How does the expert group fulfill the municipality’s needs in this area?
‘In the platform new developments are discussed, but also initiatives of others are highlighted and all sorts of other issues that affect debt assistance. In this way, our knowledge is broadened and we generate ideas about how we can strengthen our own debt counseling. ‘
What is the result for the municipality of Delft (until now)?
‘What it yields to me is mainly a lot of substantive information about the how and what within the debt assistance, the’ hot items’ and the subjects on which we can develop even more in Delft. I get a broader picture through the combination of these different subjects. I also use that in, for example, our new policy document on debt counseling. ‘
What does the municipality of Delft most need, the policy issues that are discussed or the more practical solutions?
“Both topics yield something. Policy adjustments often result in changes to the process or implementation. By discussing the policy matters, the practical consequences usually also arise. In addition, you get a lot of information from colleagues in the country. Sometimes someone else is already working on it and has tips and tricks. Especially that exchange has a lot of value for me. ‘
Which subjects would Delft like to see on the agenda in the coming period?
‘Debt assistance to independent entrepreneurs and the influence of life events on financial problems are subjects that we are working on in Delft. Extra information or experiences from other municipalities are therefore very welcome. ‘
How does the collaboration with banco and Bank work?
‘I think the collaboration went well. It is very nice to get information from banco and the Bank at the same time. The link between these two parties becomes a kind of matter of course. ‘
How important is it for municipalities to learn from each other on this topic?
‘It is very important for municipalities to exchange information with each other. At the moment there is so much happening in the country in the field of debt assistance and early warning, in every municipality there is an initiative. What could be better than sharing projects with each other? You do not have to reinvent the wheel, but you can use successful methods in your own municipality. ‘
Why would you recommend other municipalities to join the platform?
‘The platform is the means to make contact with your colleagues from the country. Using each other’s knowledge and experience is so important and meaningful. And even if nobody has the solution, we try to find a solution together during such a meeting. The platform helps you stay up to date in the developments and regularly provides new insights. ‘