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StepChange supports half a million people in its 30th year

9 April 2024

In its 30th year of helping people facing problem debt, StepChange Debt Charity saw increasing demand for its services, providing full debt advice to 183,403 clients, a 10% rise year-on-year. The charity guided a further 277,621 people, and helped 17,456 people to become debt free, according to its 2023 Impact Report, published today.

With the cost-of-living crisis both worsening debt problems for some and sweeping new cohorts of people into financial difficulty, StepChange saw changes in a typical client’s profile last year, with people from higher income brackets seeking advice. The average income of a StepChange client rose by 10.4%, higher than the rate of UK wage growth. The charity also saw a slight increase in the proportion of clients with a mortgage, rising to 13.8%, from 12.3% in 2022.

Despite seeing more people facing financial hardship in 2023, the charity was driven by its mission to prevent the harm that debt can cause and help people to get back on their feet. This includes using all tools at its disposal to improve outcomes for those struggling with debt. StepChange’s online benefits checker, which helps to boost client benefit income, identified over £12.7 million per month of additional benefits entitlements for clients last year.

A focus on digital support was a key theme for both StepChange and its partners throughout 2023. Three in five (61%) clients completed their entire debt advice journey online, the highest proportion since the online journey was introduced in 2007. One in four (24%) clients opted for a combination of both online and telephony advice.

StepChange’s digital partner referral tools were utilised to make it easier and smoother for partners to signpost their customers to advice, with over 88,000 being recommended to seek debt advice through these tools. A successful example of this was the charity’s new partnership with ClearScore, which saw a data-driven approach used to identify customers at risk of financial difficulty earlier in their journey and provide them with the support to improve their situation. In the first year of the partnership, over 6,000 ClearScore users have accessed StepChange Direct, with 34% being recommended to take debt advice.

As part of its commitment to delivering an inclusive service, StepChange launched a new partnership with Sign Solutions to offer debt advice to British Sign Language (BSL) users. This has been a success since launching in September with demand for the service expected to rise in 2024.

StepChange CEO Vikki Brownridge, said:

“As we marked 30 years of providing free and impartial debt advice in 2023, the pressures of the cost of living crisis reaffirmed the integral role that debt advice plays in society. In a challenging year for households, our colleagues have worked hard to deliver a flexible and inclusive service which puts client need at heart of everything that we do.

“Last year saw us embrace the FCA’s new Consumer Duty to review and refine our service, ensuring we’re driven by improving client outcomes at all stages of the debt advice journey. We’re grateful for the ongoing support of our valued partners, and we’re proud of new initiatives launched which will help to deliver these aims.”

Notes to Editors

  1. StepChange’s 2023 Impact Report can be found here

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