Thousands of people in debt have received help from their municipality more quickly this year. This is because there is more focus on so-called early detection, according to a monitor by Divosa, the association of executives in the social domain.

Since 1 January, municipalities have been obliged to seek personal contact with residents with debts. Housing associations, health insurers, water companies and energy suppliers have promised to pass on signals of payment arrears to the municipalities as early as possible. This is to prevent people from developing problematic debts.

Quarter of a million signals

Divosa has received figures from 139 municipalities about how early detection works so far. This shows that a quarter of a million signals have been received since the beginning of this year. More than half of those signals came from health insurers.

Municipalities are obliged to do something with these signals. The officials can, for example, send letters to people with payment arrears or call or visit them.

Home visits work best

The monitor shows that a home visit works best. In more than a third of the attempts, it was possible to make contact with the debtor.

In total, we managed to contact about 1 in 6 people who received reports. “That’s quite a nice number,” says Tamara Madern, professor of Debt Prevention and Early Detection at the Hogeschool Utrecht. “But it could probably be even higher if all municipalities start to use home visits. Some now only send letters.”

With about 5500 people, the contact has actually led to them accepting help from the municipality. The group that is helped more quickly by early detection is probably larger, because a large part of the municipalities is not yet participating in the monitor.

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