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Talk Money Week 2018 - debt advice really helps

12 November, 2018

To celebrate Talk Money Week (12-18 November), we can reveal new evidence from clients about how taking debt advice is helping them feel better, sleep better, and feel more confident about making ends meet. Our research shows 4 out of 5 people feel better just three months after advice.

We've introduced a major new rolling client tracking survey to capture information about what kind of differences people report after they have taken debt advice. This will help us monitor and improve our own services, but it also provides powerful evidence of the difference that good advice can make.

While there are no quick and easy fixes to serious debt problems, for many people taking the first step is the hardest. The thought of picking up the phone, or beginning the online debt advice process, can be daunting. Yet just three months later, four fifths (79%) of our clients report an upturn in their wellbeing on at least one measure.

On individual measures, three months after debt advice:

  • Two thirds (67%) of clients said they were confident of making ends meet every or most months over the next 6 months.
  • Two thirds (67%) of clients said they worried less about their debts than they did before they received advice from the charity.
  • 56% said they felt able to deal with day to day life better than before advice.
  • 51% said they were sleeping better than they did before contacting the charity.

As the National Audit Office recently highlighted, the costs of problem debt to the wider economy are huge. It makes sense to try to ensure that people get help before their debt problems cause further knock-on impacts on their health, housing and wellbeing.

So the main message to people worrying about debt is to take the first step – the evidence suggests that they will feel better for it.

Peter Tutton, head of policy at StepChange Debt Charity, says:

“We already know the huge sense of relief that people feel when they successfully become free of problem debt, often after years of hard slog to achieve that result. But what is exciting to find is that, for four out of five people, worthwhile benefits are felt just three months after taking debt advice.

"This Talk Money Week, we would urge anyone suffering in silence over their debt to take the first step and seek free debt advice from one of the reputable charities who can help them.”

Many people taking part in the survey who took the opportunity to give additional comments provided powerful feedback on how free debt advice helps, saying things like:

“Rescued me from a prison cell of debt and worry”, “I found it very reassuring after my discussing my situation. Staff were efficient and spoke in a calming and professional manner. I felt as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders and not like I can't cope anymore.” “So understanding, friendly, you don’t feel alone with your debt problems and you are listened to and spoken to like a human being.” “I did write a letter to say how helpful it had been, especially to have been given typed breakdowns of outgoings etc, as preparing such things can feel like an immense burden when one is worn down by debt.” “My situation has improved, I feel secure and in more control of my debts.” “It saved my life.”

Over time, we'll be measuring outcomes for clients at three months, nine months and fifteen months after taking advice. We'll publish a full report of the first cumulative findings early next year.

As Talk Money Week continues, we'll be putting out more information via social media and blogs to help promote the four themes of the week, promoted by the Money Advice Service, to get more people to access free debt advice, get more people to save regularly, more young people receiving a meaningful financial education, and fewer people using credit for everyday spending. Keep up to date on Twitter at @StepChange and @MoneyAware.

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