25 September, 2015
StepChange Debt Charity announced today that on 16th November, 2015 it will launch a telephone based service to provide free and independent advice for people in the Republic of Ireland who are struggling with multiple secured and unsecured debt problems.
The announcement follows today’s signing of a funding agreement between StepChange Debt Charity and five major banks: Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, KBC Bank, Permanent TSB and Ulster Bank.
Background to the agreement
In 2013, at the request of the Central Bank of Ireland, StepChange Debt Charity operated the Pilot of the Multiple-Debt Framework. The pilot established that “there is merit in an alternative proposition for indebted customers who either do not want to pursue a formal insolvency arrangement or who may be ineligible for any such arrangement other than bankruptcy”. A survey of clients who took part in the pilot found that 75% had benefitted from participating.
Since the pilot, the charity has been working with the Banking and Payments Federation of Ireland (BPFI) on the provision of a free service and building on the learnings from the pilot. Those discussions have been successfully concluded with the signing of the funding agreement.
About the service
StepChange Debt Charity Ireland will provide advice on a range of solutions to help people deal with their whole debt problem, including informal repayment plans, mortgage restructuring and insolvency.
The current agreement provides funding for StepChange Debt Charity to offer debt advice to over 10,000 people over a three year period. The agreement is subject to review, based on levels of demand.
Mike O’Connor, Chief Executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said: “We know the impact that struggling with debt can have on family life and on a person’s physical and mental health, and we know the difference that free and independent debt advice can make.
“We exist to provide free and independent advice to people struggling with debt and we are proud to have been chosen to provide a service to people in the Republic of Ireland.”
Notes to editors
- StepChange Debt Charity’s vision is a society free of problem debt. Our ethos is founded on helping people to repay their debts where they are able to do so. Where they cannot, we provide advice including where appropriate supporting them through insolvency processes. We help them recover from a financial crisis and avoid such problems in the future. The number of people helped by StepChange Debt Charity has increased by 80 per cent over the last three years.
- StepChange Debt Charity is majority funded by voluntary donations from lenders who support the work of the charity. All of the money repaid by StepChange Debt Charity clients on Debt Management Plans is used to repay their debt. This allows StepChange Debt Charity to retain its independence and ensure that its advice is always in the best interest of the client.
- StepChange Debt Charity Ireland is funded via a grant agreement with Bank of Ireland, Ulster Bank, Permanent TSB, KBC Bank and Allied Irish Bank.
- StepChange Debt Charity Ireland is a trading name of the Foundation for Credit Counselling a UK registered charity in England and Wales (Company No: 2757055 ) (Registered Charity No: 1016630). Registered office: Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
- StepChange Debt Charity has operated in Northern Ireland since 2001 in partnership with the Limavady Community Development Initiative.
- The StepChange Debt Charity Ireland free phone helpline (1 800 937 435) will be open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
- The service will open 16th November, 2015