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Providing free debt advice for over 25 years

CCCS to StepChange Debt Charity: our history

We have more than 25 years' experience helping people deal with their debt problems. A lot has happened in those years, including changing our name from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) to StepChange Debt Charity. Here’s our story.

  • It all started in 1992… Vic Ware OBE and Malcolm Hurlston CBE founded Foundation for Credit Counselling after being inspired by the Consumer Credit Counselling model in the US.

    Vic and Malcolm created CCCS with a simple vision: No-one should have to pay for debt advice
  • 1993 - We became pioneers: we opened our first dedicated debt advice centre in Leeds. In the same year we pioneered the debt management plan (DMP), to help thousands of people repay their debts.
  • 1995 - We kept on growing: we branched out and opened two new offices, in Nottingham and Birmingham.
  • 1996 - Creditors were paying attention: CCCS was starting to become well known among the biggest names in the UK credit industry. With their backing, we expanded our debt counselling services to help more and more people.
  • 2001 - We crossed the sea: we started providing debt advice and solutions to people in Northern Ireland.
  • 2006 - Debt advice arrived online: By 2006, more people were looking for help online. To reach them, we launched Debt Remedy, the first online tool providing free, confidential debt advice.
  • 2007 - We branched out: CCCS Voluntary Arrangement launched as the only not-for-profit organisation offering individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) on a charitable basis.
  • 2009 - We expanded our skills: we became approved intermediaries to offer debt relief orders (DROs).
  • 2010 - By 2010 we were helping in new ways: we launched our equity release subsidiary, CCCSER, so we could help homeowners over the age of 55 repay their debts by considering more options through equity release solutions.
  • 2012 - We had a makeover: CCCS who? It was time for a change. We ditched our old name and became StepChange Debt Charity. We wanted our catchier name to reach more people who needed our help, and create a society free from problem debt. We became more visible and more vocal.
  • 2013 - People knew our name: Our plan worked. Over 500,000 people contacted us in 2013 to get debt help, up from under 400,000 in 2012. There’s a 50% increase in the number of people getting in touch with us online.
  • 2014 - We made some noise in January: we launched our first ever Debt Awareness Week, and it was a success. In fact, it became one of the busiest weeks in our history as we dealt with a huge £266m worth of debt in a seven-day period. In the same year our debt advisors in Scotland became money advisors and were approved by the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB), allowing them to set up debt payment programmes (DPPs).
  • 2015 - We said “dia dhuit” to Ireland: with the UK covered for free debt advice, we turned our sights to Ireland. StepChange Debt Charity Ireland launched, offering clear, simple and impartial debt advice to those needing our help. Also in 2015, we successfully applied for the role of Payments Distributor of DPPs in Scotland.
  • 2016 - We were FCA authorised: we were pleased to receive authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and set ourselves up for the future of debt advice.
  • 2017 - We looked to the future: we were busy behind the scenes, preparing for big changes in the years ahead. These changes will help us to help even more people deal with their debts and provide innovative new ways to engage with our charity.
  • 2018 - We celebrated our 25th anniversary. In 25 years we helped over 5 million people and repaid £4 billion of their debts. We're really proud of these achievements, but we're didn't rest on our laurels as we celebrated our birthday.
  • 2019 - We started to help more people avoid problem debt by developing our persistent debt service, and our much-anticipated new customer relationship management system went live to help us implement an omnichannel debt advice experience.
  • 2020 - So far in 2020 we've moved to new offices in Glasgow, and our persistent debt website hub has been launched to help people address their worries with credit cards and overdrafts. Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, we've supported our colleagues to work from home and kept our services running throughout lockdown.