Good reasons for cross-national dialogue: Preventing debt problems among young people in Denmark and Finland
In late August 2016, a project team from the Danish Consumer Council visited the Mun Talous project in Helsinki. Similar to Mun Talous, the Danish project – named På Rette Spor, or On the Right Track – works to prevent debt problems among young people.
Project Manager Jukka Moilanen and his team made us feel extremely welcome, and we had a visit packed with valuable exchanges. During the two-day programme, we had stimulating discussions about the two projects, we met for debate with the Mun Talous network, and we were introduced to activities such as the Me & My City project. Also, the Mun Talous team kindly showed us some of the best sides of Helsinki, including its high quality restaurants. We are very grateful for the time and effort that Jukka and his colleagues put into the arrangement.
The reason for the visit was a realization that the Finnish and the Danish project carry a lot of similarities, and that it would be fruitful to learn from each other. The På Rette Spor project constitutes a partnership between the Danish Consumer Council and the private foundation TrygFonden. The project emerged in 2014 from an understanding that debts problems are on the rise, particularly among young people, and that new and innovative measures has to be considered if that picture is to change.
The target group of På Rette Spor is the 18-30 years old, and with a particular view to young people in risk of overindebtedness. The main target group is defined as young people with everyday payment difficulties. Working together with creditors such as housing companies and tele-operators, the ideas is that young people with unpaid bills are referred directly to the Consumer Council and offered various debt preventing ‘tools’.
Currently, these tools are being developed, and we excpect to begin testing them together with young people during Spring 2017. At the same time, we will be running campaigns to engage young people critically in issues of personal finance and consumption. The Spring 2017 campaign will focus on consumer lending, making it clear that financing clothes, computers or other comsumer goods with borrowed money is often an expensive choice. Similar to the Mun Talous project, we aim to underpin these initiatives by support from a broad range of interested parties. Therefore, we are currently building a debt prevention network and planning various network activities.
As for Mun Talous and the project team in Helsinki, we hope to be able ‘pay our debt’ at some point by welcoming Jukka and his colleagues to more valuable discussions in Copenhagen!
Head of project, Paa Rette Spor (On the Right Track)
The Danish Consumer Council