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Consumer Credit Counselling Service

The idea of ‘consumer credit counselling services’ originated in the United States of America (USA) to help people deal with the emerging problem of credit card debt.

It was then introduced into the UK and developed as the model for the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS). In its more modern form of ‘debt advice,’ credit counselling is deeply engrained in the history of StepChange Debt Charity.

History of credit counselling

As credit began to be more widely used, debt charities in different US states joined together in the 1980s to form the National Federation for Credit Counselling. For the first time, people were offered advice and debt management as an alternative to personal bankruptcy.

Credit counselling in the UK

As in America, there were calls for the UK credit industry to offer help to the growing numbers of its customers who were in financial difficulty.

Recognising that the model worked well in the USA, Vic Ware O.B.E and Malcolm Hurlston introduced the Foundation for Credit Counselling (FCC) to the UK in 1992. Thanks to support from the credit industry, the pilot - based in Leeds - was a success and allowed FCC – as the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) - to offer impartial debt help, free of charge.

Leading UK debt charity

In 1996, CCCS won the support of the biggest names in UK credit industry so we could expand and develop. We’ve since opened offices all over the UK to provide debt help to anyone in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The original plan to offer mainly face to face debt counselling has been overtaken by other methods and now, through our national telephone helpline (freephone, including all major mobile networks*) and online counselling on the internet, we are able to help people with debt problems in the way which suits them best.

Future of credit counselling

As the landscape of UK credit has changed over the last 20 years we’ve adapted to meet demand.

Through the years we’ve extended our service to offer expert credit counselling to self-employed people, those in need of bankruptcy support, or homeowners with mortgage arrears. And we’re always looking to develop new tools such as our welfare benefits checker and utility switching service to help maximise client income.

Since bringing the credit counselling approach to the UK from America we’ve grown into the leading UK debt charity. From the introduction of debt management plans (DMPs) to the pioneering use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help with debt-related stress, we’ve shown a quality of care that sets the standard for both credit counselling and debt management.

Our history

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1992 - CCCS created

Foundation for Credit Counselling set up by Vic Ware O.B.E and Malcolm Hurlston. This quickly becomes the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).

1993 - Leeds office opens

Our dedicated debt advice centre in Leeds opens. It has since taken 13 million calls, helping 1.5 million clients address 28bn worth of debt.

1993 - DMP introduced

We pioneer the debt management plan (DMP), which has since helped thousands of people repay their debts.

1996 - Credit industry support

With almost all of the biggest names in the UK credit industry having pledged their support to the charity, the pace of the development increases, allowing us to expand our debt counselling services

1997 - Glasgow office opens

Our office on Mitchell Street in Glasgow opens, giving us a regional base to provide debt advice in Scotland for people who are struggling with their debts.

2001 - Limavady office opens

Our office in Limavady opens, allowing us to provide specifically tailored debt advice in Northern Ireland.

2006 - Debt Remedy launched

We introduce Debt Remedy - the first online tool to provide free, anonymous debt advice.

2007 - CCCSVA launched

We introduce CCCS Voluntary Arrangements - the only not-for-profit organisation to offer individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) on a charitable basis.

2009 - Housing helpline opens

Our office in Cardiff starts to operate the Housing Debt Helpline Wales - a dedicated service providing debt advice in Wales for people who are struggling to meet their mortgage or rent payments.

2010 - Launch of CCCSER

We introduce CCCSER - an equity release company to enable homeowners over the age of 55 to use equity from their home to repay their debts.

2012 - CCCS renamed

We change our name from CCCS to StepChange Debt Charity, as part of our plan to help more people, and become even more visible and vocal.

2013 - Beating records

507,863 people, a record number, contact StepChange Debt Charity in 2013. We also see a 50% increase in the number of people getting in touch with us online.

2014 - Debt Awareness Week

In January 2014 we run our first ever Debt Awareness Week. It’s one of the busiest weeks in the charity’s history, dealing with £266m of debt.

2015 - Debt advice in Ireland

StepChange Ireland launches in November offering clear, simple, impartial debt advice that helps people to get their finances under control.


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Our new name

The consequences of debt - lost jobs, homes, broken relationships, mental health and support needs - leads to social costs of £8.3 billion.

The Government has an opportunity to offer better help for people in debt get back on their feet and contributing to the economy, and prevent the next generation from falling into the same trap.

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Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2017