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External affairs team

Find out who's talking about us and what they're saying

StepChange in the news

In this section you'll find highlights from recent media coverage of our campaign work as well as appearances on radio and television by our policy advocates and clients.

Our latest media coverage

Please note, we're not responsible for the content of external websites.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Debt advice charity condemns ‘misleading’ write-off ads on Facebook - The Guardian, also via Yahoo and MSN.

StepChange was mentioned yesterday in the House of Lords during a debate on the Taking Control of Goods Regulations 2021. Lord McNichol described StepChange giving “life-changing” engagement and support to a close family member of his, after Lord Best mentioned our work representing those needing debt advice. The debate is available via Hansard.

StepChange was mentioned as a source of advice in a number publications, including:

Don’t just body swerve debt! Take control and focus on the light at the end of the debt tunnel - Business Live.

Zero-interest periods offered on credit cards expected to increase - Bradford Telegraph & Argus and 27 other regional outlets.

Tips to revive your finances in the mid-January slump - The Money Pages.

Friday, 7 January 2022

It was a busy week for StepChange, with our first press release of 2022 on Tuesday reacting to the Bank of England’s November figures and releasing our own client data for that month. This highlighted the rising proportion of clients coming to us with rent arrears and mortgage arrears, as well as the substantial increase since the pandemic in the proportion of clients coming to us with gas or electricity arrears - even before the gas price crisis hit - and explained why this was a worrying sign alongside growing net credit card borrowing in the general public.

We received coverage in national outlets such as Sky News and Yahoo!, as well as trade outlets CCR Magazine and Credit Strategy.

And on Thursday, as the Government closed their consultation into Buy now, pay later regulation, we released a new statistics showing that consumers using the services are much more likely to be struggling than others.

We revealed, among other stats, that half (49%) of those with a BNPL loan say they find it difficult to keep up with bills and repayments, rising to 59% among those with two or more BNPL loans, and warned that this level of harm is inevitable without proper regulation.

As part of the coverage, Phil Andrew appeared on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours programme (Around 13 minutes in), alongside one of our case studies, Chloe, to discuss the services, and Richard Lane was the guest on Which?’s latest podcast episode covering BNPL.

Other coverage this week included:

  • Rising bills and end of state support threaten ‘perfect storm’ of debt - Mail +.
  • Consumers using BNPL are much more likely to be struggling, finds StepChange - CCR Magazine.
  • Urgent warning as Martin Lewis cautions anyone using their overdraft over ‘danger debt’ - The Sun.

Friday, 17 December

Over the weekend, Head of Policy, Peter Tutton, appeared on MP Nickie Aiken’s podcast, to discuss the risk imposter firm cause to people seeking free debt advice, and why we need to amend the Online Safety Bill to include greater protections in the online advertising space. This is available via Google Podcasts and many other podcast providers.

We reacted to the news that the Bank of England was to rase the rate of interest from 0.1% to 0.25%, with Director of External Affairs Richard Lane highlighting that "for financially vulnerable households who are already struggling to make ends meet, neither higher interest rates nor high inflation are at all welcome."

We also called for the Government to bring forwards its planned upscaling of benefit payments, to support vulnerable households during the rising inflation. Richard took part later that day in a discussion on GB News about the impact of the changes on vulnerable households, with the charity receiving further coverage as covered below.

Coverage this week included:

  • ‘Not a great change' Bank of England told to do MORE as interest rates hiked - Express
  • Charity calls for UK Government to bring forward DWP benefit increases to help households meet living costs - Daily Record
  • Credit card interest rates reach new high – here’s how to get out of debt - Which?
  • 2021 TRI Awards winners and TRI 250 revealed - Credit Strategy (£)
  • 4 strategies to help you get out of debt - Ideal

Friday, 10 December

We welcomed the announcement by the FCA of new consumer duty proposals, which we called a “game changer” for their requirement that firms go beyond a simple box-ticking exercise and work towards positive outcomes for their clients. Our response to the proposals featured in a number of national and trade outlets, such as the Independent, the Daily Record and Credit Strategy (£).

This week, we also released new statistics showing the levels of difficulty many households are facing this Christmas. With less than half (45%) of those celebrating Christmas telling us they would be able to comfortably afford festive spending this year, we warned that while ‘advertising may promote the idea that you can spend and borrow your way to a happy Christmas’, for many struggling it could cause issues down the line in January.

The story was covered across BBC Radio news bulletins, and also featured on the BBC’s news site, as well as in the Independent and other outlets via the Press Association.

There was further coverage of our Christmas polling across a range of outlets, including:

  • Charity warns nearly one in four people celebrating Christmas may struggle to afford it this year - Daily Record
  • Where to donate Christmas presents in the UK, from children’s hospitals to care homes - The Independent
  • Fears over debt as more Brits turn to borrowing to cover Christmas - The Money Pages
  • One in four who celebrate Christmas will struggle to afford it - YourMoney

Friday, 3 December

Over the weekend, an incredibly complementary piece about the charity and the wider debt advice sector appeared in the i, rounding up some of the wonderful feedback that came off the back of Martin Lewis’s request for debt advice success stories. The piece also featured an extensive quote from Head of Media, Sue Anderson, discussing the sort of help we give and the varied reasons why people need our service.

Also this week, two of our clients shared their stories.

Chloe appeared in ThisIsMoney, in a piece discussing the difficulties Buy Now, Pay Later products can cause people. Among other experiences, Chloe discussed how one BNPL lender had allowed her to continue to take out credit using their service, even as she was being pursued by debt collectors from the exact same company.

And Katherine, featured in an article in the Sunday Express, discussing the help we had given her after she suffered from economic abuse at the hands of her partner. Katherine was passionate about the difference StepChange advisors had made to her life, saying “I can’t thank StepChange enough for their help and support. They genuinely save lives.”

Other coverage this week included:

Friday, 24 November

This week our Covid Debt Rescue data, showing that over 200,000 people felt they were ‘probably’ or ‘likely’ to lose their homes, was featured across a number of outlets as the Big Issue launched their ‘Stop Mass Homelessness’ campaign.

The stats featured in over 150 local and national outlets via PA alone, such the Daily Mail and the Evening Standard, as well as influential outlets like City AM and industry websites such as Charity Today.

Other media coverage this week includes:

  • Millions of Universal Credit claimants to receive extra £1,000 in DWP rule change - Staffordshire Live
  • ‘Buy now pay later’ services being exploited by fraudsters, warns Association of Cycle Traders - Bikebiz

Friday, 19 November

On Wednesday StepChange offered our wholehearted support for the FCA’s decision to ban referral fees for debt packager firms, commenting on the awful practices which have led to people seeking debt advice being tricked into paying fees to unscrupulous firms.

Our comments received coverage in a number of outlets, such as:

We were mentioned as a source of advice by Martin Lewis on ITV twice. The first was during a short segment on This Morning discussing credit cards, and the second was during his 'Martin Lewis Money Show' (ITV: Clip starts around 05:35), in a discussion about where to get help with debt problems.

Martin also shared some of the positive comments clients had shared with him on Twitter about their experiences in debt advice

Friday, 12 November

On Wednesday, Scotland’s four biggest debt advice charities – Citizens Advice Scotland, Christians Against Poverty, Money Advice Scotland and ourselves - joined forces as part of Talk Money Week to encourage people across Scotland to seek free advice on money and debt. We highlighted the unprecedented financial challenges many families will face over the Winter and coming year. See coverage below.

This was covered by the following news outlets:

  • Scotland’s four main debt charities team up to offer support to everyone who needs it this winter - Daily Record
  • Scotland’s four main debt charities unite to offer support in ‘perfect storm’ crisis - Scottish Housing News

On Thursday, StepChange commented on the latest landlord possession statistics, which showed while court actions are low, the proportion of private landlords seeking possession is well above pre-pandemic levels.

We warned that while low eviction numbers remain a positive sign, a continuation of this trend will rely on the Government’s £65 million fund for helping people in rent arrears. With our own research putting private rent arrears built up during the pandemic at £360m, we urged Government to closely monitor how the money is spent and to be prepared to release more funds should eviction numbers begin to rise.

Our comments were covered by the following news outlets:

  • Evictions tripled in the three months after ban ended - The Big Issue
  • Charity wants check on how £65m is spent on Covid-arrears tenants - Landlord Today
  • Rise in PRS landlords seeking eviction through courts - HQ Network
  • Landlord possessions increase - Credit Connect

Friday, 5 November

We 'described a "poverty premium", saying people often went into debt after unforeseen expenditure on things such as replacing broken white goods' in this Which? article: Greener kitchen goods could save thousands, Which? suggests.

We are mentioned as a source of advice in the following articles:

  • I was put on a £50 monthly plan to pay off overdraft debt after cancer diagnosis - now I'm being threatened with court action - This is Money
  • Why today's Bank of England interest rate announcement is not good news for your pension - Daily Express
  • Pound falls as Bank of England holds interest rates at 0.1% despite surging inflation - The Mirror
  • Mum uses simple tricks to clear £17,000 debt in 11 months - Hampshire Live and other regional titles

Friday, 29 October

Earlier this week, we warmly welcomed an announcement from the Government detailing a new £65 million fund to support renters in arrears due to Covid. Since the start of the year our campaigns team has been working tirelessly to call on Government to help tenants and offer protection against homelessness and eviction as part of our Covid Debt Rescue campaign.

While there's still work to do to turn the tide on the £360m backlog of rent debt that's built up since the start of the pandemic, this announcement is a positive step forward. Our comments on the announcement received coverage in The Sun as well as a number of housing and credit trades such as Housing Quality Network, Property Industry Eye, and Credit Strategy (£).

Earlier this week StepChange responded to the Government’s budget announcement, welcoming measures such as increased support for renters and changes to the Universal Credit taper rate, but also warning that this support is not enough to comprehensively tackle many of the issues we’ve highlighted this year. We received coverage in a number of trade outlets such as YourMoney, CCR Magazine and Credit Connect, and Sue Anderson, Head of Media, also appeared among a panel of experts on BBC Leicester (starts at 50 mins 49 secs) sharing their reactions to the Chancellor’s announcements.

Also this week, Chief Executive Phil Andrew was appointed to the Money and Pension Service Advisory board alongside the CEOs of the Money Advice Trust and Citizens Advice and the CFO of NatWest Bank. Phil’s expertise will be sought on how MaPS can best support people in managing their money and pensions better. For coverage, please see below.

Other coverage this week included:

  • Universal Credit claimants to get an extra £1,000-a-year after DWP rule change announced in Autumn Budget - Daily Record
  • Budget reaction: Gloucestershire sizes up the Chancellor's offering - Punchline
  • Government pledges £65m to help vulnerable renters - Credit Strategy
  • MaPS appoints new advisory group members - Credit Connect
  • Four industry leaders join Maps advisory group - Money Marketing
  • Maps Advisory Board announces new members - Pensions Age
  • Asda Money and StepChange announce Lunch Money event for Talk Money Week - London Post

Friday, 22 October

Yesterday StepChange responded to the news the Government had launched their long awaited consultation into the buy now, pay later market, welcoming how the questions asked covered some of the biggest concerns we have had with the products over the last few years.

There was also some good news this week in the form of the FCA’s Perimeter Report’s recommendations for the Online Safety Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament. The FCA recommended that the provisions in the bill designed to protect against online fraud also be applied to paid for advertising, which would be a huge help in the charity’s ongoing fight against StepChange impersonators. The FCA also promised specific action on lead generators in the debt advice sector, and promised an update on this in 'the near future'.

Other coverage this week included:

  • Crackdown on buy now pay later sector looms as consultation is launched - Press Association story which appeared on Yahoo! Finance, AOL, the MailOnline, the Independent and 149 local news outlets.
  • Buy now pay later customers face waiting over a YEAR for same protection as credit cards and loans - The Sun and the Scottish Sun
  • Crackdown on buy now pay later lending - Your Money

Friday, 15 October

We were covered by the following news outlets:

  • Almost TWO MILLION more working poor since Tories came to power, research shows - The Mirror
  • Four steps to take if you’re behind on rent as number of Universal Credit claimants in arrears soars 70% - The Sun
  • Universal Credit to Furlough: 7 UK law and rule changes in October - Oxford Mail and 126 regional titles

We were also mentioned as a source of advice here:

  • The seven benefits that stop when you reach state pension age including Universal Credit - The Sun and The Scottish Sun
  • Rainy day saving: ways to budget better & bolster your emergency fund - Ideal
  • Five Steps For Building Financial Wellbeing for Musical Freelancers - The Music Journal

Friday, 8 October

On Wednesday StepChange responded to the long-touted £20 a week cut from households’ Universal Credit allowance.

We revealed our own client stats, showing that for those who rely on Universal Credit, there will be a 31% drop in those who have a positive budget after the changes, going from 59% of clients to 28%.

We also highlighted the budget disparities those already in a negative budget will face, with the average shortfall among clients tripling from -£40 to -£126 a month.

Our stats were featured in The Sun in two different articles, as well as in trade outlets such as YourMoney, CCR Magazine and Credit-Connect.

We also had a client feature in an in-depth article on the rental debt crisis this week in the i.

Clare, who’s in significant rental debt as a result of the pandemic, discussed the difficult choices she faces. She is a mother of one trying to manage on income that leaves her with only £100 after paying her rent each month. The piece also featured a quote from Richard Lane, calling on the Government to reverse course on the £20 a week universal credit cut and implement a package of targeted support for renters. We are also calling on energy providers to ensure that as the energy crisis worsens, people like Clare aren’t put into impossible positions.

On Thursday, Lawrie Morgan-Klein appeared in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice & Social Security committee, discussing the Scottish Government’s upcoming 2022-23 budget and what we’ve been seeing from a debt advice provider’s perspective.

Other coverage during the week:

  • AI can make customers love, not loathe, their bank in tough financial times - Finestra
  • MSPs visit Lanarkshire debt centre as part of Challenge Poverty Week - Daily Record

Friday, 1 October

On Wednesday, StepChange commented on the Bank of England’s latest Money & Credit data, saying it spoke to our experiences of a two-speed recovery in the pandemic. Alongside it, we also released our client data for August, showing a rise in people seeking debt advice while in fulltime employment.

We coverage for this in trade outlets such as YourMoney, Credit Connect and CCR Magazine.

Yesterday, we reacted to the Chancellor’s announcement of a £500 million discretionary fund. Richard Lane commented that while the fund will provide some relief to households experiencing financial distress, the Government need to build further on this if they want to help everyone make ends meet, highlighting that there is a £6 billion cut to Universal Credit on the horizon to contend with.

Head of Policy, Peter Tutton, continues to be widely quoted in an article across a significant number of local papers discussing the scale of the personal debt crisis in their respective areas, calling attention to the “unmanageable financial situations” many people are being pushed into. Here’s an example from the Dorset Echo.

Peter Tutton also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s flagship consumer programme You and Yours yesterday to discuss the risks to renters when the Government reduces the notice period for evictions back to pre-pandemic levels. In the show they also discussed our findings from the Covid Debt Rescue campaign, which showed that more than 200,000 private renters had built up rent arrears.

And last week’s new report The True Cost of Tax Credit Overpayments continues to be featured in a range of articles looking at issues with the welfare system, with the Daily Mirror covering our findings in an article discussing updates to Universal Credit

Other coverage included:

  • What are my rights if I’m made redundant, including holiday, pension, and pay? - The Sun
  • The different financial personality types and how to manage money depending on yours - Cosmopolitan

Friday, 24 September

Our statistics featured in a hard hitting piece from The Independent’s Women’s Correspondent, Maya Oppenheim, discussing the disproportionate effect the £20 a week cut to Universal Credit will have on women.

The new Shadow Minister for Women & Equalities, Taiwo Owatemi, referenced our data in Parliament, and also highlighted how our female clients’ budgets will be affected by the upcoming cut.

We also continue to feature in a number of high profile articles around the topic of Buy Now, Pay Later, with appearances this week in The Guardian (as well as the print edition of the Observer) and the print edition of The Times.

This week, we announced the release of our newest report, The True Cost of Tax Credit Overpayments, revealing that deductions from Universal Credit payments used by the DWP to collect tax credit overpayments are leaving households unable to pay for rent, food and groceries. We called on the Government to make a number of changes, including implementing an affordability assessments before determining the rate of repayment, writing off tax credit debts over 6 years old, and lowering the minimum deduction to £1 for those who cannot afford to pay more.

Our report was covered by a number of outlets, including:

The ongoing financial impact of covid and the rising cost of living on people who need our help was also covered by The Guardian, The Big Issue, Motley Fool, BBC Radio Leeds and Humberside, The Sun and the Scottish Sun.

Friday, 17 September

Yesterday we revealed the latest findings in our Covid Debt Rescue campaign, showing that the £360 million Covid rent debt crisis will escalate unless the Universal Credit cut is reversed and a package of targeted support is put in place for renters in arrears.

This was covered widely:

The BBC used our data and clients' story for their report 'I'm constantly worried about being evicted' and mentioned our findings in their Covid-19 round-up.

'Estimated £360m Covid rent debt crisis will escalate, warns charity' - published by Yahoo! Finance, AOL, The Independent and the Belfast Telegraph, amongst others

Our report was also included in numerous local BBC Radio Station bulletins and has been discussed on LBC’s hourly news updates.

Other coverage during the week:

  • Debt fears as Monzo launches £3,000 buy now, pay later loans (Telegraph £)
  • Buy now, pray later? How deferred payments could harm the customer experience (Raconteur £)
  • Five major Covid support schemes ending in TWO weeks – how to prepare (The Sun and Scottish Sun)

Friday, 10 September

Baroness Tyler of Enfield mentioned our warnings on the effect of cutting £20 a week from Universal Credit during a House of Lords debate on the end of the uplift. You can read about this in Hansard.

  • Online Collections Technology Think Tank 2.1 confirms line up (Credit Connect)

Friday, 3 September

On Tuesday this week we launched our Scotland Debt Guide, a booklet designed to help facilitate better access to debt advice for hard to reach communities. Lawrie Morgan-Klein appeared on BBC Radio Scotland and other local BBC stations on Tuesday to discuss the difference we hope the guide will make (starts around 50 mins in), alongside coverage in the print edition of the Daily Record, and in trade outlets such as CCR Magazine and Credit Connect.

Also on Tuesday, we released our response to the latest Bank of England Money and Credit statistics, which provide information on lending and repayment trends, as well as releasing our own client stats for July.

This was covered in several the Mirror and Independent and via the Press Association. There was also trade coverage from outlets such as Mortgage Introducer and Credit Strategy.

And on Thursday we were one of 100 organisations who signed a letter calling on the Prime Minister to reconsider his decision to push forward with a £20 weekly cut to Universal Credit.

The letter was covered widely with the BBC, the Guardian, and Sky News all reporting on it.

We were also featured in the following publications:

  • Buy now, pay later shoppers chased by debt collectors – your rights if it happens to you (The Sun)
  • Sigma celebrates Pure Planet contract win following vulnerable customer pilot (West Midlands Growth)

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