By Peter Tutton, Head of Policy Research and Public Affairs

On 4th May a new Government scheme for people struggling with debt problems opens for applications.

The statutory Debt Respite (“breathing space”) scheme, covering England and Wales, will give people struggling with problem debt a 60 day period of legal protection while they work with a debt adviser on a long term solution for their debts.

During the period of protection creditors (with some exceptions) will not be able to add further interest or charges to a debt and will not normally be able to take steps to recover the…

By Phil Andrew, Chief Executive at StepChange

The past year has been nothing if not surreal and in many ways contradictory, with the future looking equally unpredictable.

It is with those sentiments that I write this update, as I think it is important to explain what may seem like contrary actions and forces to those who are not as enmeshed in the world of debt advice as we are.

The thorny issue of need, demand and timing

We advised around 200,000 clients in 2020, compared to over 300,000 clients in 2019.

The Government, the Money and Pensions Service, and the…

By Lawrie Morgan Klein, StepChange Scotland Public Affairs Officer

Scotland goes to the polls in just two weeks to elect MSPs for the next five years. It’s an election like no other, complete with socially-distanced voting, campaigning and counting of the votes.

The new Government gets to make decisions that will be crucial in determining how StepChange Scotland, and our Scottish clients, will be affected in the future. So what manifesto do we need for people experiencing debt in Scotland — and will we get it?

StepChange Scotland would urge all parties to commit to:

1. Keep the impetus for…

by Adam Butler, Public Policy Manager

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, StepChange has been monitoring its impact on financial difficulty and problem debt. The latest results from January this year are summarised in a new presentation here.

What can we learn a year on from the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK?

The pandemic has affected everyone, so it’s sometimes easy to overlook the fact it has not affected everyone equally. Arguably the greatest failure of public policy making of the last year, excluding public health measures, has been the failure to fully support those who have experienced the harshest economic effects of the pandemic.

Our research shows that a substantial group —…

By Mark Haslam, Senior Parliamentary and Public Affairs Officer

On Wednesday we launched our Covid Debt Rescue campaign, casting a particular spotlight on the urgent rent debt crisis.

Since the start of the pandemic, household finances across the country have come under enormous strain, with private renters hardest hit.

Around 150,000 renters say they will probably lose their homes in the next twelve months because they can’t keep up with rents.

Despite wide-scale Government support, around half of private renters have faced a drop in income. Around half a million people are now behind on their rents (a third of…

For those with low incomes and no assets being in debt can feel like being trapped, with the demands of creditors compounding a sense of hopelessness.

For many of these individuals the Insolvency Service’s proposals to widen the eligibility criteria for Debt Relief Orders (DRO) will come as a welcome reprieve.

DROs were created in the wake of the financial crash to give people an alternative to expensive bankruptcy proceedings, giving those with little means to repay debts a fresh start after a year of sticking to a limited debt payment plan.

However, over time the eligibility criteria for these…

By Peter Tutton, Head of Policy Research and Public Affairs

Couple standing outside
Couple standing outside

Christopher Woolard’s review of change and innovation and the unsecured credit market dropped into the world on 2 February. It is in part a ‘point-in-time’ look at current issues in the credit market, with regulating buy-now-pay-later grabbing the headlines as something that needs to be done right now.

However, the strength of this review lies in its broader sweep and the understanding that a succession of problems in the credit market are linked by themes that remain under-addressed by regulatory and social policy.

A self-reflecting regulator is a good thing…

By Adam Butler, Public Policy Manager

One in four StepChange advice clients is a single parent — new research by StepChange and Gingerbread seeks to explain why and what can be done to prevent problem debt among single parents

For a first-hand account of the experience of struggling with debt as a single parent, read Lindsay’s blog

In 2019, 24% of StepChange clients were single parents, compared to 6% of households in the UK. National polling showed that single parents were more than twice as likely as couple parents to experience severe problem debt.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic began in…

by Ed McDonagh, Senior Public Policy Advocate

There’s a view of a bailiff visit in the popular consciousness. A stern-looking uniformed officer comes to the door of a property and demands payment. In shows like ‘Can’t Pay, We’ll Take it Away’, the image of a bailiff wandering around someone’s home itemising their belongings for potential sale in order to pay a debt has been fixed in popular culture. A court decision last week could see big changes to this long-standing stereotype.

The court declared that bailiff legislation doesn’t require bailiffs to enter someone’s property to make a Controlled Goods Agreement.

To succeed, these will have to go hand-in-hand with a new advice funding strategy

By Phil Andrew, Chief Executive at StepChange

Phil Andrew, CEO at StepChange
Phil Andrew, CEO at StepChange

Today, we heard the very welcome news that eligibility for Debt Relief Orders (DROs) is likely — subject to Insolvency Service consultation responses — to broaden markedly in just a few months’ time.

More people in England and Wales will soon be able to get this type of debt relief, giving them the opportunity to achieve a debt-free fresh start after a 12-month period with the backing of statutory protection.

This is good news — yet it is also the perfect microcosm example of why the question of debt advice funding, as well…

StepChange Debt Charity

We provide free, impartial debt advice and solutions to anyone struggling with debt problems in the UK.

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