COVID19

COVID-19 has struck Europe and many industries are bleeding due to this, already thousands of people are being laid off due to immense pressure from the lockdowns which have been implemented in several European countries. We need to act now, if we want to have any chance of the nipping the upcoming crisis in the butt! The ECDN is thus calling for all our members, both active and passive, as well as all our supporters, friends and followers to help Europe in this time of need!

Read more HERE.

On this page you can read about economic and debt advise in countries all over Europe. This page is meant to create a quick and easy overview so that you as a citizen in need of help, or as another debt advise organisation in Europe can see what kind of help is offered in your country or in the country where you are currently living/working.

If you have information about debt counseling in your country, which you cannot see below, then please contact us as fast as possible with this information, then we will make sure to publish it here on our website.

We are trying to ensure that this information gets out to as many people as possible, this is we do this by sharing information on our social media accounts: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. We encourage all of our members  to send us information, which they want us to share on these social media, but also to follow us on our social media and share what we post, read more Here. This is how we ensure that this very important information gets out to as many people as possible – If you have information which you think is relevant for the ECDN to share on our social media then please contact us.

This page is updated as we receive new information.

Austria

The addresses of all officially recognised debt counselling offices can be found on the following Website.

Despite the current restrictions on freedom of movement in Austria, the debt counselling centres in the federal states can be reached by telephone and also provide comprehensive advice by telephone. Details on this special page:

We already notice that many people are becoming unemployed. We will propagate measures to ease the situations of those affected – similar to what has been done by NIBUD and others in the Netherlands.

Czech Republic

We are currently gathering more information on the options and status of debt counseling  in the Czech republic. Below you can see some organisations, which you can contact, if you need help – visit their website for more information.

  • Poradna při finanční tísni, o.p.s. – Offers specialized debt advice. For now they operate without any interruption, but other steps and actions will come in some days  after internal discussions – Website
  • Člověk v tísni o. p. s. – Provides debt advice among other social services – Website
  • Charita Česká republika – Provides debt advice among other social services – Website
  • Občanské poradny – Provides debt advice among other social services – Website
  • Naděje, spolek – provides debt advice among other social services in the north Bohemia – Website
  • EUROTOPIA.CZ, o.p.s. – Provides debt advice among other social services in the north Moravia – Website
Denmark

How you and your organisation handles both the corona crisis and the financial crisis.

The Social Legal Aid is has taken measures both to protect the employees and our clients. Currently, TSLA are not operating face to face debt advice service. We have physically shot down our offices and sent all employees home to work from there. We are still supporting citizens via phone, but since most of our counselors are students, they are not allowed to debt advice without supervision.

We refer to official state websites and hotlines, the police and the clients own insurance companies for questions regarding Corona

What actions have you taken to ensure that you can continue giving debt advice?

Our counseling efforts are limited these days, since it is limited what our counselors can do from home. We still support our clients via phone regarding so-called “step 1”-questions. That is simple and easily answered question. We furthermore advice on means-to-self-help and we make sure that acute problems on so-called “step 2 and 3” are being taken care of.

 Have you been able to make specific deals with the banks and other creditors in your country?

The first banks have already taken measures to help their clients, e.g. by offering arrears on installments and loans. We have not yet reached out to the banks and creditors in order to make specific deals, but it is our expectation that this will be possible further down the line.

 Have you been into contact with your government, and if yes, what did they respond?

We have reached out to the government, specifically the two departments, “Socialstyrelsen” and “Civilstyrelsen” that provides the funding for our organisation. We did this already before it all escalated and everything shut down. We have not heard back from them yet. However, the Danish government are hard at work making sure everybody gets the help they need and have released multiple “help packages” for the people in need. We expect that they also take responsibility for the people opportunities to get counseling.

How are you creating awareness on the crisis at hand?

We have contacted our collaboration partners, e.g. the creditors, and told them they need to get ready to react and help us help the clients to emerge from this situation the best way possible. We are furthermore continuously updating our website and Social Media to keep our clients informed and updated on the latest news.

We are also planning to reach out to the Danish politicians in order to make them understand the severity of what is to come. Right now there is an acute need for nurses and doctors, but afterwards all the affected citizens will be in need of counseling in order to handle the new economic situation. We expect many to lose their jobs and thus having trouble paying of loans and mortgages. The politicians need to make access to debt counseling available for everybody and not just the socially vulnerable, as the requirement is now.

How do you ensure that no one is left behind?

This is a tricky one due to the current state of debt advice in Denmark, where only specific target groups can get help for free. In TSLA we are working to implement procedures, so we can help the most people regardless of where our counselors are working from.

Finland

We are currently gathering information on the options and status of debt counseling  in Finland. Below you can see some of organisations, which you can contact, if you need help – visit their website for more information.

  • National Public Authority for debt advise – Website – National public authority for debt advice has announced, that it operates as usual
  • Takuusäätiö (Guarantee Foundation) – Website – Services at Guarantee Foundation operates in normal mode, although the most of our workers operate by telecommuting.

You can also call the National Debt Line at +35880098009

Entrepreneurs can ask for consultation for their problems from National Helpline. Finnish entrepreneurs NGO has also opened a New Website for entrepreneurs.

France

Debt counselling

Despite the movement restrictions in France, CRESUS continues to counsel their beneficiaries who need more help and support  than ever.

There is a label in France, the “Point conseil budget” is a state label for organisations (most of them are general social aid associations  general) which help people in their financial difficulties. I don’t know if they can continue their support.

About state measures

Because of the movements restrictions, many companies have to close or suspend their activities. There is a system in France which is called “Activité partielle” (“incomplete activity). The employees can get 70 % of the brutto wage from the employer. Normally the state reimburse just a just a part of the 70 %. The government has decided to reimburse all of the 70 %.

In fact and at the time, no measures for the privat person has been taken. Banks have no general policy and it’s the job of any people to call the bank trying to obtain suspension of mensuality. We will see in the few days how creditors will react.

The state measures are reserved for the professional :

  1. The french tax administration organised facilities, like suspension of the taxes or payment schedule.
  2. The french administration reimburse more than normally within the “activité partielle”

Wwe are waiting for the details of other announcement (which concerns company and independant) like :

  • A state financial support (1.500 €) for little company and contractors,
  • Suspension of the credit payments,
  • Guarantee of the french investments bank (BPI) for credits to pay the bills,
  • Suspension of the rent, of the energy expenses.

The french government has a special website detailing their measures to handle the COVID-19 outbreak, to see it follow this Link.

Germany

In Germany almost all people who are in danger of becoming over-indebted can receive help from a debt counselor. Counseling can be both personal through phone and online, but due to high demand for help, many debt counseling organisations in Germany have an up to 9 months queue. You can read more Here (link in German). Below you can see a number of organisations, which you can contact, if you need help – visit their website for more information.

  • Caritas Debt Advise – They offer face-to-face and online counseling – Website
  • German Debt Advise Association – Website

The BAG-SB are currently working on a website for overindebted people that will include information in english as well. It will be online at www.meine-schulden.de from May 2020 on.

Here you can find more information on debts and debt counseling in general, it is a discussion site, with several questions and answers that may help you – Link.

On Sunday, March 22, the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, declared a general contact ban banning gatherings of more than two people in public space and mandating that people should keep distance. Restaurants will be closed immediately. The ban has a period of validity for fourteen days. Read more Here.

Ireland

MABS Website

The MABS website has been updated to include details from other departments relating to the current situation as it evolves. The website now includes up to date information on social welfare payments, press releases from the credit industry. We have today (March 18, 2020) updated the website to include some self-help actions people who are impacted can take. The link is very practical and I believe could be used in other countries.

Citizens Information Services

Our delivery partner Citizens Information Services also provide up to date information on their website. This website provides links to all new payments available from our social welfare system.

MABS Services at present

Currently the MABS services are not operating a face to face debt advice service. We remain supporting citizens via phone, email or post as appropriate.

Social Media

We are actively using social media to help bring awareness to our websites, and to provide clear, accurate information

  • We have created MABS twitter handle @mabsinfo and this is kept up to date with national information similar to the websites.
  • Our Citizens Information Services already had a twitter presence , Twitter: @citizensinfo.
  • MABS have some Instagram and Facebook profiles local to the regional companies. These are posting regular updates on debt and income concerns. Keeping the information up to date as we receive it
  • Citizens Information have an active Facebook: @citizensinformation.ie. again providing clear up to date information

Credit Industry

Our utility providers have agreed to a current stay on disconnections and are providing access to additional emergency energy. Some banks are offering a payment break. We continue to work with the Banking Payment Federation of Ireland to try reach more solutions. Our 5 main banks are meeting today (March 18, 2020) to review options and we expect (hope) for a standard industry approach.

We will update citizens on this information as it is available to us.

Our courts services have suspended hearings until April 20th which includes repossession and debt collection cases.

Gwen Harris, regional Manager at MABS, has been working with an employee Support Website for the Aviation Industry, called Aviation Zorro. MABS had provided some information previously following the closure of Thomas Cook and some other companies. They have contacted again, as you will imagine they are supporting employees globally and have asked if we had information on support services and debt counselling available across the member countries.

Yesterday (March 18 2020) an agreement was reached with the 5 main banks, they will implement measures to help those affected by the Coronavirus outbreak including a payment break  up to three months – Read more Here  – Note that vulture funds are not (yet) included in this agreement, although the Minister said he hopes to make progress here in the coming days.

Italy

In Italy the Government passed a decree march 17 2020, link to the full decree (in Italian) Here. Our associates are currently trying to find a short summary of the decree, as it is rather long and complex reading. The essense of the decree is to ensure the funding of:

  1. The health system
  2. Firms
  3. Households (support for wages and their debt, especially with banks)
  4. Fhe financial system (banks)
  5. Independent workers
Luxembourg

At Ligue Médico-Sociale in Luxembourg, which provides debt counseling to over-indebted people as well as education and advice to social workers who work with over-indebted people, there have currently not been taken any actions due to COVDI-19 yet. But clients have started to reschedule their appointsments.

Netherlands

NIBUD has supported a request from the Social Alliance to the government, local municpalities, housing corporations, commercial landlords, banks, insurance companies and professional incasso-firms  to have a lenient attitude and to take into account the exceptional situation for society as a whole and especially for vulnerable people. And to take the following measures as long as the corona crisis lasts + 1 month:

  • To stop new debt collection measures, like seizure of wages, bank accounts, goods, cars and from government subsidies.
  • To stop increases, fines and interest on late payments.
  • To stop house seizures, cutting off energy, water and internet.
  • To continue quarterly and monthly credits, even if a positive saldo is needed during that period.
  • To generously give social security, unemployment benefits and subsidies with a minimum of administrative burden.

Below are a number of organisations, where people in different situations can get help and information:

  • You can contact the members of the NVVK for debt advice, voluntary debt relief follow the link Here.
  • A first point of reference could also be the legal and social advisors – Website.
  • For debt prevention and budgetting tools, refer to, you can contact NIBUD.
  • Last but not least, if you already have a running debt arrangement via the courts, you can find information Here.
Poland

We are currently gathering information on the options and status of debt counseling  in Poland. Below you can see some of organisations, which you can contact, if you need help – visit their website for more information.

  • Storwarzyszenie Krzewienia Edukacji Finansowej – SKEF provides debt advise via phone or email – Website
  • Urzqd Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów provides general Consumer aid – Website
  • Pomoc Prawna Porady Obywatelskie Mediacja, offers free legal aid via phone or email – Website

Wednesday march 18th, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki informed on Facebook that during the meeting of the Cabinet Council a project called: Economic and social anti-crisis shield for the security of entrepreneurs and employees in connection with the SARS-Cov-2 virus pandemic was created.

 The anti-crisis package is divided into five main parts:

  • employee safety;
  • corporate finance;
  • health care;
  • strengthening the financial system;
  • a public investment programme.

 The Prime Minister announced that for entrepreneurs who meet the criteria, the state will cover 40% of employees’ wages up to the average wage in the economy. In turn, the self-employed, persons on contracts of mandate and for work in the situation of a drop in income will receive a one-off benefit of about PLN 2.000. The package also provides that employees can take credit holidays in banks. Poles will also benefit from postponing the deadline for the settlement of PIT declarations until the end of June instead of the end of April.

The package includes anti-lichwire solutions, fighting against prices that are higher than not so long ago.

Here is a guide for entrepreneurs, due to the new regulation to fight over the COVID-19 crisis in Poland. It is also very important from the view of consumers, because the regulation introduces financial help for  entrepreneurs to protect workplaces. The guide also informs about the extension of the lease  term, to protect the families and companies. Other very important information is the modification of the non-interest loan/credit costs for Consumers, which were reduced due to the COVID- 19 crisis- he modification is valid for a one year, from 31.03.2020 until 31.03.2021. The introduced changes also forbid for energy companies to cut off power, when inability  to pay for invoice is provoked by Coronavirus.

Portugal

We are currently gathering information on the options and status of debt counseling  in Portugal. Below you can see a number of organisations, which you can contact, if you need help – visit their website and social media for more information.

  • GASDECO, is the biggest consumer association in Portugal – Website
  • GOEC, a non-profit debt counsel – Facebook
  • APOIARE, a non-profit debt-counsel and member of RACE – Facebook
  • Mediador de Crédito / Credit Mediator (Ombudsman) – Website
  • RACE, Indebted Consumer Support Network – a network of debt advise services by the government – Website

GASDECO from the association DECO has suspended all face-to-face attendance, but remain available by phone, email or website. This means that they have suspended the weekly attendance in some municipalities with whom they have a protocol too. They have the lion share of cases in Portugal. GOEC provides mostly non fa-to-face support, except i in some municipalities with whom they have a protocol.

The Portuguese government announced today (March 18 2020) an economic rescuing package. They are planning a moratorium the mortgages payment and had adopted some measures regarding the salaries of sayt-at-home workers due to the pandemic.

Romania

Unfortunately Romania currently have no active debt counseling organisations. We  have though been working closely with partners in Romania for the past 2 years on establishing a debt counseling organisation called HelpDebit. We are currently looking for funding to start the project properly, so that we can start providing debt counseling to the Romanian People.

Sweden

Addresses to all budget and debt advice offices in the municipalities in Sweden can be found at This Link. On this page you will find our information about consumer rights regarding travel cancellations because of the coronavirus: Link (in Swedish) Link (in English)

If you have general questions about the coronavirus, you can call the national information line on 113 13. All information provided by 113 13 is verified by the Public Health Agency of Sweden (Folkhälsomyndigheten) or by other responsible authorities. Link. If you are or could be infected by the coronavirus and must be quarantined, you may be able to receive compensation from the Swedish Social Insurance Agency (Försäkringskassan) through the so-called transmission carrier’s allowance (smittbärarpenningen). In that case, you need to have a medical certificate that says you are not allowed to work.

Read about other companies and organisations responses to the COVID-19 crisis in their own countries here.

Four groups to combat over-indebtedness

One of the priorities at the Management Coomittee meeting on March 21st 2020, the Management Committee was to create four groups whose tasks will be to combat over-indebtedness in Europe caused by the outbreak of COVID-19. The first groups is the COVID-19 and debt Scientific Group, the second group is the Financial Education Group, the third group is the ECDN Expert Group, and the last group is the ECDN Political Group. Each group has a different purpose and consist of people from all across the European Union and Europe to ensure broad representation of knowledge and ideas – These groups will make the ECDN a stronger player on the European stage and they will help us fight over-indebtedness, both that caused by COVID-19, but also in general, and thus ensure a fiancially inclusive Europe!

Below you can read more about each of the Groups:

COVID-19 and Debt Scientific Group

Read More!

ECDN Political Group

Read More!

ECDN Expert Group

Read More!

Financial Education Group

Read More!

IS YOUR ASSOCIATION WORKING WITH DEBT COUNSELING IN EUROPE?
The we could really need your help in not only mapping where our national citizens still can get free debt counseling/advise (by phone / chat)around Europe, but also where you can’t get it – So that we together across borders can help each other through this task that lies ahead of us – both on a national and in international level. Please let us hear from you!