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Scalable, flexible debt advice and solutions

The information on this page for written for StepChange Partnership organisations and should not be used by clients to assess the suitability of any debt solution or services.

Our vision is to create a society free from problem debt. We can help to do this by working with organisations that refer their customers to us, once it's recognised that they may need pre-arrears support or full debt advice.

Flexible debt advice for your customers

We are the UK's only full debt support service that can provide your customers with the widest range of debt solutions and complete flexibility in how they receive advice.

Customers can switch between online and telephone advice and engage with support however and whenever they like, with our online service available 24/7.

A wide range of solutions

We recommend specific solutions based on individual circumstances, driven only by careful assessment of your customer’s best interests. Whatever solution your customer chooses, we’re always available to support them on an ongoing basis.

Specialist support for vulnerable customers

If your customers have other vulnerabilities along with their debt, such as mental health problems, we can also provide additional support. We collaborate with a wide range of charities and agencies to ensure they get the holistic help they need.

Transforming our services through digital innovation

At StepChange, we use our in-house debt advice expertise and work collaboratively across departments to transform how we support people. We also continuously improve our service based on insights about our clients.

We’ve been providing expert debt advice over the phone since 1993. From developing the first end-to-end online debt advice system, Debt Remedy, to our new flexible online and telephone advice system, Pulse, we focus on what clients want, and developing bespoke systems that work for those who need our help.

Flexible, free debt advice online and by phone

Our flexible, free debt advice allows users to seamlessly switch between online and telephone advice, giving clients the choice we know they value, while only having to provide information once.

At StepChange, we've been providing expert debt advice over the phone since 1993. We saw the potential for online debt advice early on and developed the first fully-online debt advice service over 15 years ago. Since then, it's helped over 1.6 million people clear their debts.

But what's next? Well, we know that the pandemic has supercharged digital adoption and that your customers expect responsive, professional, and caring support. So, let us introduce StepChange Your Way. StepChange Your Way is flexible, free debt advice that allows your customers to seamlessly switch between our online and telephone advice channels while only having to provide their information once.

So, how does it work? We'll start by asking your customers some quick questions to understand how best we can support them. If debt advice is right for them, we'll capture the details of their debts and help them create a realistic, sustainable budget by understanding how much they may be able to afford to repay towards their debts.

At any time during the debt advice journey, customers can easily switch between channels, take a break, and continue once they're ready. And our online service is available 24/7 too, so they can use it at a time that suits them. When the debt advice process is complete, we'll give them an advice recommendation, tailored to their personal needs.

We'll guide them through the solution setup process. Whether it's a supported solution, such as a Debt management plan, or an insolvency option, such as a Debt relief order, we're here to meet the needs of your customers. And during peak times, our systems can flex to cope with increased demand.

So, start referring today. StepChange, Your Way.

We know that accessing debt help can be overwhelming, and it’s not always convenient to complete the full journey in one go. During the debt advice process, clients can easily switch between channels, take a break, and continue once they’re ready. Our online service is available 24/7, so clients can use it at a time that suits them.

Securely upload and sign documents online

Once clients have completed debt advice and been recommended a debt solution, we’ll support them to set up their plan and provide all the information and support they need.

Clients registering for a Debt Management Plan, Token Payment Plan or the Debt Arrangement Scheme in Scotland can upload their documents and sign their agreements through our secure online platform, making it quicker and easier to get set up and creating a seamless digital journey.

Digital access to the Breathing Space scheme

Breathing Space gives eligible clients 60 days without creditor contact, providing the headspace to seek advice and set up a solution. Breathing Space is available over the phone and online to suit clients’ needs and provide access through their channel of choice.

60 Second Debt Test

In collaboration with the University of Bristol, we created an embeddable tool that can quickly help clients understand whether they might benefit from debt advice. The 60 second debt test is available to embed on external websites and many of our partner organisations use the tool to signpost their customers to help if they’re worried about their finances.

Repayment calculator

Our repayment calculator can help clients with a persistent debt to work out how long it could take them to pay off their balance, and how a small change to their monthly repayments could help them pay it off faster and save on interest charges.

Our debt solutions

Informal arrangements

DMPs and TPPs are available throughout the UK

We offer a range of informal debt arrangements, liaising with creditors on behalf of their customers to reach a temporary or long-term route forward.

On a DMP, your customer makes one affordable monthly payment to the charity which we disburse fairly across their creditors.

Once it’s set up, we work with them to help them stay on track, and conduct reviews at least annually to ensure their DMP is still affordable and the most appropriate solution for them.  

Every penny your customer pays to us goes towards repaying their debts included in the plan.

In some cases, your customer may come to us when they can’t realistically afford to make repayments, but it’s very likely that their situation will improve in the near future.

In this situation we’ll work with them and their creditors to manage a token payment plan (TPP). Each creditor receives £1 a month until your customer’s situation improves enough to increase their monthly repayment amount.

Insolvency options

IVAs, DROs and Bankruptcy are available in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

We believe that if your customer can afford to repay their debts within a reasonable period, they should do so. But where an insolvency solution is an option, we’ll always discuss it with your customer and recommend the best solution them. In some cases, this may be their best or their only option.

We can help set up a range of insolvency solutions such as debt relief orders (DROs), or individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), and advise on Bankruptcy.

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a formal agreement allowing your customer to make affordable payments towards their  debts, usually over five or six years. At the end of the IVA any unsecured debt left is written off. Your customers can also make a one-off payment known as a lump-sum IVA.

A debt relief order (DRO) is a way for clients’ debts to be written off if they have a relatively low level of debt and have few assets. A DRO freezes their debt repayments and interest for 12 months. 

If your customer’s financial situation hasn’t changed at the end of this period, all the debts included will be written off. As we're an approved organisation for the official receiver, we can help your customers apply for a DRO if they’re eligible. If your customer qualifies, our specialist DRO team can apply to the Insolvency Service for them. 

Bankruptcy is a legal procedure mainly suited for customers whose circumstances are unlikely to change and who are unable to pay back their debts in a reasonable time.

Assets such as a home or vehicle may be included in the bankruptcy to help pay off the debts owed. After being declared bankrupt, creditors will write off unsecured debts, allowing customers to make a fresh start.

Debt advice for homeowners

Mortgage advice is available throughout the UK.

We understand that for customers paying a mortgage or renting, it can be worrying not knowing if they’ll be able to stay in their home if they’re struggling with housing costs.

For these customers, we’ll put a realistic budget together for them, advise them on how to deal with their mortgage lender or landlord and avoid eviction.

If your customer is facing eviction or repossession, our online debt advice tool provides expert advice on what steps the customer may need to take to stay in their home, and we’re available via telephone (freephone, including all mobiles) for customers to chat to us about their situation.

Our expert team* offers free residential and retirement mortgage advice. They’ll take time to understand your customer’s situation and guide them through the process and provide answers and advice in clear, simple terms.

Equity release can allow customers to access the money tied up in their home if they’re aged 55+. If they’re eligible, they can take a tax-free cash lump sum, or access flexible borrowing whether they’re managing debt or supplementing their retirement income. 

There are three types of equity release available. How much your customer can release varies between providers, but usually depends on their age, health, and value of their home.

An interest-only lifetime mortgage allows your customer to release a cash lump sum via a mortgage secured on their home. They also retain full ownership of their property. 

This can be the most cost-effective method of equity release, as it allows customers to manage the associated interest charges by making monthly repayments. If they keep up with the interest payments, the amount they owe never increases.

To qualify, customers must meet the provider’s affordability criteria. If your customer can’t afford or chooses not to make full repayments, they can elect to make partial payments to help reduce the long-term cost.

A lifetime mortgage allows your customer to release a cash lump sum or gives them access to a flexible borrowing facility if they need to borrow more money in the future. 

They won’t have to make any monthly payments on their mortgage, and they’ll keep 100% ownership of their property. They can also customise the plan to suit their needs.

A home reversion plan allows your customer to sell all or part of their home in exchange for a cash lump sum and rent-free lifetime tenure in their home.

Releasing equity this way allows customers to access the money tied up in their home with no need to make repayments. When the property is eventually sold, the provider will retain their percentage of the sale proceeds.

Your customers will benefit from any increase in the value of the property and share any decreases in value. The amount they receive is discounted in exchange for rent-free lifetime tenure.

Scottish debt solutions

DPPs, Sequestration, Protected trust deeds and MAPS solutions are only available in Scotland.

Wherever your customers live in Scotland, StepChange Debt Charity is here to help them. We’re Scotland’s largest provider of specialist telephone and online debt advice, offering individual solutions that are effective and free. 

Our specialist team of debt advisors in Glasgow will tailor debt advice to the customer’s individual circumstances and in line with Scottish debt law. We’re also an DAS approved organisation for setting up debt payment plans through the Debt Arrangement Scheme (DAS).

The Debt Arrangement Scheme is a debt management tool only available in Scotland through which your customer can apply for a debt payment programme (DPP). 

We’ll help customers set up their DPP completely free of charge. Some commercial debt management companies charge for this. Once the DPP is approved, 22% of the payment is taken as fees to cover the running costs, so the customer won't repay more than they owe. The percentage is set in law, and there are no other hidden charges.

Scottish bankruptcy, sometimes called ‘sequestration’, is a form of insolvency allowing your customers to write off debt that would otherwise take many years to clear. It may be recommended for your customer if they’re unable to repay their debts in a reasonable time. 

We can help provide customers with a ‘certificate of sequestration’ which they’ll need to apply for Scottish bankruptcy if it’s a suitable debt solution for them and their financial circumstances.

A protected trust deed is a formal agreement between your customer and their creditors where they make reduced payments to their debts and usually lasts for four years. 

A protected trust deed transfers the customer’s rights to the things they own to a trustee who may sell them to pay their creditors’ part of what is owed, and usually includes a contribution out of the customer’s income, usually for the length of the agreement.

The minimal asset process (MAP) is a way of applying for bankruptcy aimed at customers on a low income with very few or no assets. 

It’s a means of writing off debt that they would struggle to repay within a reasonable time. 

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