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Debt and coronavirus

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Information for StepChange clients

If you’re a client, you may be worried how your debt solution will be impacted by coronavirus.

We’ve put this page together to help to reassure you. It’ll continue to be updated as we find and add more information.

We’re also working closely with creditors to understand how they’ll help our clients during the crisis.

Your debt solution

Below you'll find helpful information and guidance telling you: 



Having issues with your bank or a creditor?

We've put together some information in case:







DMP and TPP clients

If you’re on a debt management plan (DMP) or token payment plan (TPP) we recognise that you might struggle to make your payment, and what impact this might have.

If you can afford to continue paying your regular monthly payment then we’d encourage you to do this.

If you’re seriously affected by coronavirus you’re struggling to make your payment or if you’d like to make a reduced payment, please contact us first to let us know. We'll amend your payment to reflect your situation. We'll also talk with you about what you can do until you're in a position to review your budget and make your monthly payment again.

Please also contact us again when you’re ready to resume making payments to your plan. We know this may be a difficult time for you.



If you have a DMP or TPP and live in Scotland, you can apply for a moratorium of up to six months against court enforcement action even if you’ve had one before.

Activating your plan

We continue to support clients by activating their DMPs and TPPs as quickly as possible.

Your plan will be activated once we’ve processed all necessary documentation to contact and pay creditors on your behalf. If we require any further information from you to set this up, we’ll be in touch soon.

If your income has changed since your original debt advice session, please send us your most up-to-date proof of income or a note of what’s changed so we know this debt solution is still the best for your situation.

If you’ve already sent us all the information requested in your personal advice pack (PAP) there’s no need to resend or contact us again. We’ll be in touch soon.

Contact from creditors

Sometimes creditors will still contact you and ask for an extra payment, despite the fact you're paying what you can afford through your monthly payment.

If this happens to you, please don't feel pressured to pay the creditor extra on top of your DMP payment. Instead, tell the creditor to contact us about your plan rather than you. All creditors should know that once you're on a plan with us, we're best placed to talk about your situation and why you're paying a certain amount each month.

If you're just getting started with your DMP or TPP, there's a chance that some creditors are still 'catching up'. Sometimes they'll say they haven't heard from us, or tell you that you should pay something until we do.

If this happens, give them your StepChange reference number and tell them to get in touch with us. If you've sent back your signed DMP agreement, we can start talking to creditors on your behalf. If you haven't sent your paperwork back yet, you can still give the creditor your reference number and tell them we'll be in touch as soon as your plan is activated. Your creditors should then give you at least 30 days' breathing space once they know you're setting up a debt solution with us.

Creditors sending letters saying that your debts are 'in arrears'

When you're on a DMP or TPP, you're making reduced payments towards your debts each month. From time to time, you might receive letters from creditors saying that you've defaulted on your debts, or you're in arrears.

If this happens, don't worry. Often, these letters are auto-generated and will be sent to you because the original payment agreement has been broken. Also, creditors have a duty under the Consumer Credit act to keep you informed on your debts.

If you get any urgent letters such as court paperwork, get in touch with us as soon as possible. We'll talk you through next steps.

Creditors refusing to accept your DMP or TPP payment

Make your monthly payment as normal, and tell the creditor to contact us if they have any issues about how much they're currently getting.

Creditors know that we work out your payment based on what you can truly afford. Once you tell them to speak to us, most creditors will reduce their contact with you.

If it's been around 12 months since you last reviewed your DMP or TPP, your creditor does have the right to ask for a plan review. This is actually in your benefit; it means we can make sure your plan reflects your current situation. It's also required by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Being put on furlough during your DMP or TPP

If you’re placed on furlough by your employer during your DMP or TPP, please get in touch with us as soon as possible. We’ll put a note on your plan about your furlough, and we can also review your budget to make sure you’re able to cover your priority expenses in the months ahead.

If you know how long your furlough is likely to last for, please let us know. We may need to review your plan again once your furlough comes to an end. Please also get in touch with us if you have any other change of circumstances.

In the meantime, it’s worth trying to get support on your priority bills where possible. For example, mortgage lenders are offering payment holidays, and utility providers may be able to help you manage your monthly bill until your situation improves. If you’re dealing with an emergency cost that you’ll struggle to cover due to being furloughed, please read our guide to emergency funding.


IVA clients

Despite the coronavirus crisis, we’re still offering our usual service to submit your IVA for creditor approval. At this time, we ask you to contact us by email where possible, but if needed you can also call us. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. We’re still handling incoming and outgoing post, so we’re able to process any information you need to send back to us.

If you’re on an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) we recognise that many people might struggle to make their payment, and what impact this might have. Our VA team will continue to support you as best they can.

Special provision has been introduced by the Insolvency Service, which means that anyone who can't make their IVA payment can have an additional three-month payment holiday. However, you'll need to review your situation with us before we can be sure that you qualify.

Please email us a copy of any documents that prove your inability to pay. This could include:


  • wage slips letter 
  • from your employment, or 
  • a bill with increased expenditure




If you can afford to continue paying your regular monthly payment then we’d encourage you to do this. If you don’t think you’ll be able to make your payment, or can only make a reduced payment, please email us to let us know. You'll need to send us evidence including full details of your income and expenditure if your circumstances have changed.

DRO clients in England and Wales


Contacting us


At the moment we‘re asking clients to send information to us by email, if possible.

If you haven’t received a copy of your debt relief order application, please send information or enquiries to  administration.team@stepchange.org





If you have received a copy of your application, please send information or enquiries to  dro@stepchange.org

 

If we need to speak to you, we’ll let you know by email or letter.




Due to the impact of coronavirus, you may experience a delay when you call or when we reply to your email.

Paying your fee

Due to the impact of coronavirus, the Insolvency Service have provided their bank details so our clients can pay the £90 fee through online banking. If you have this facility, the details you need are below:

  • Bank name – RBS
  • Account name – INSS DRO
  • Account number – 10002456
  • Sort code – 60-70-80

You’ll also need to include the following details when you pay so the Insolvency Service can identify which application the £90 payment is for:

  • Your full name
  • Your DRO application number (found on the front page of your application)


Once you’ve paid the fee, wait two working days for this to be processed and then call us to submit your application.   


DRO clients in Northern Ireland


The Insolvency Service have advised that due to the coronavirus outbreak, they’re currently unable to provide a DRO Service in Northern Ireland. They’re hoping to resume the service soon.  


DPP clients


Our DPP team is now providing a full service once again. You can reach us by email and phone, and we can also process post. We’re continuing to upload applications to the AiB. Clients who’ve been unable to return documents as a result of coronavirus have had their timescales extended.

If you’re on a debt payment programme (DPP) and are struggling to afford your payment, you can make a reduced payment, or contact us to apply for a crisis payment break. Currently, you can only apply for two crisis payment breaks in any year. However, if you’re expecting difficulties to continue you can apply for a payment holiday for up to six months.

The Scottish Government has announced that if you can't make your DPP payments because of the COVID-19 pandemic, your DPP won't be revoked. Full details can be found here.

Bankruptcy in England, Wales and Northern Ireland



If you've applied for bankruptcy and are struggling to pay your income payment arrangement (IPA) or income payment order (IPO), you should contact your local official receiver. All offices are closed, however they can still open to be contacted, and will be able to help you reduce or postpone your payment. You can find their contact details on the  GOV.UK website .

Bankruptcy and MAP in Scotland


21 May 2020 - we have updated this section to reflect changes to the conditions for MAP and full bankruptcy in line with new Scottish legislation.

We’re now providing a full bankruptcy and MAP service to clients in Scotland once again. You can reach us by email and phone, and we can also process post. We’re able to submit your completed application for award on your behalf.


We’re also helping clients by extending timescales to provide evidence for cases, as well as reducing evidence required for cases. This is in line with temporary AiB guidelines.



The Scottish government has passed legislation in May 2020 that makes the following changes to minimal assets process (MAP) and full bankruptcy at least until the end of September 2020:


  • The MAP fee is reduced to £50
  • No fee will be payable in MAP cases for those receiving certain benefits, including when those benefits are not your sole income
  • The maximum debt level for MAP is increased to £25,000, and student loan debt is removed from that calculation
  • The full bankruptcy fee is reduced to £150
  • No fee will be payable in full bankruptcy cases for those receiving certain benefits, including when those benefits are not your sole income
  • The minimum debt level for creditor petitions is increased to £10,000
  • All bankruptcy-related forms and circulars may be sent electronically

If you've applied for bankruptcy and are struggling to make your assessed Debtor’s Contribution Order (DCO), you can apply to your trustee or the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) for a change to your DCO or a payment holiday for up to six months.

Contact the AiB on 0300 200 2600 or email aib@aib.gov.uk

The Scottish government has now passed a change to the law that extends the duration of the moratorium from creditor enforcement action to six months.

Financial Solutions clients

If you’re struggling with mortgage or lifetime mortgage payments because you can't get to work, we suggest that you contact your lender first.

Lenders generally have a number of options that can help anyone experiencing financial difficulties and will work with you to agree a solution.

If you need support from Financial Solutions please email us at equityrelease@stepchange.org


Tackling other problems with banks and creditors

The bank's taking money out of your account to pay off another debt

If you have a debt with your bank such as a loan, credit card or overdraft, they may try to take money out of your account in order to pay the balance off. This is called 'the right of set-off', but is also referred to as the 'right of offset'.

It's quite rare for a bank to act on the right of set-off, as they'd prefer you make the payment willingly or come to a more manageable arrangement with them. However, it does happen and it can come as a shock if you're not expecting it.

Read our right of set-off guide for more information.


You've had difficulties opening a basic bank account with your bank

If you've tried to open a basic bank account with your bank and ran into difficulties, we recommend you follow your bank's complaints process. If you don't get an adequate response within 8 weeks, you can escalate your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

A creditor sets up a Direct Debit on your account without your permission

Should this happen, you need to contact oyur bank and make a complaint. Explain that you haven't authorised this payment, and the bank will refund you.

Your hire purchase company refuses to give you a payment holiday

The FCA has proposed temporary payment holidays for most types of car finance agreements. Whether or not it applies to you will depend on the type of agreement you have.

You can find out more information on our car finance page.

Getting in touch with us

Our phone lines are open, although we recommend you contact us by email in the first instance. If you need to get in touch with us, you can find out how here.

More information



Are you in a cash crisis situation and urgently need money for food or other essentials? Our emergency funding page could help.

You can also sign up to our MoneyAware newsletter. Every month we'll send you tips and information to help you keep your finances on track.