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Our key policy campaigns and the research insight underpinning them

Debt causes physical and mental health issues, family breakdown, homelessness and lost employment and productivity. We're all affected by the large social costs that problem debt creates.

Our campaigns highlight the changes needed to reduce this harm, and how to move towards our vision of a society free from problem debt.

Here are our campaigns:

We’re campaigning for the Government to introduce a 'Breathing Space' scheme to help people in problem debt.

We’re calling on Government and banks to do more to provide a savings boost to struggling families.

We want to see an alternative supply of affordable credit for those that struggle to access commercial credit.

'Breathing space' for those experiencing a debt crisis

Our research shows that one in five people struggling financially have been unable to afford food after making unsecured debt repayments. And we estimate that in just six months a typical StepChange Debt Charity client would see an extra £2,300 added to their debts if creditors applied interest and charges on all their accounts.

We’re campaigning for the Government to introduce a comprehensive 'breathing space' scheme to support people seeking help with their debts from a regulated debt advice provider.

  • We want a scheme that will give a period of up to a year in which interest and charges are frozen and enforcement action halted, in order to give people time to get advice to recover their finances and
  • Where people can repay their debts at an affordable rate and within a reasonable time, these protections should continue.

We’re working with the Children’s Society to support Kelly Tolhurst MP’s Private Member’s Bill which would bring this protection into law. Read about our work in Parliament on the ‘breathing space’ Bill.

6 in 10 of our clients who weren't protected from interest, charges and enforcement actions being added to theri debts, went on to take out more credito to cope.

Read more about our recommendations for 'breathing space' in our Safe Harbours report.

Support our campaign for bailiff reform

Reforms to bailiff law in England and Wales in 2014 only had limited success. People in financial difficulty still report widespread problems with the behaviour of bailiffs and bailiff firms.

Visit bailiffreform.org to find out more about the campaign, jointly run with other charities, and share your experiences with bailiffs if you've been visited by one since April 2014.

Improved access to savings

If all families had a minimum of £1,000 saved to help them cope with a 'rainy day' it would save half a million people from falling into problem debt.

That’s why we’re calling on Government and banks to do more to help low-income families save. Our campaign has led to the Government announcing the Help-to-Save scheme, which will provide a savings boost to struggling families from 2018. 

21.8million adults in GB aren't confident they're savinge enough

  • We think the UK should adapt the auto-enrolment pension system so families can use it as a ‘rainy-day fund’ in an emergency
  • We think banks need to do more to provide innovative products that appeal to low-income households
  • The Government’s Help-to-Save scheme needs improving to be as effective as possible

Read more about our recommendations to improve access to savings and download our report, Becoming a Nation of Savers.

Access to safer and more sustainable credit

There are too many families on tight budgets who have to turn to credit as a ‘safety net’ to meet the costs of everyday essentials and emergencies. This group are significantly more likely to fall into problem debt.  

8.8m people in britain are turning to credit to pay for everyday essentials

Credit products like credit cards, overdrafts and payday loans aren’t sustainable when used regularly as a safety net:

  • Our safer overdrafts campaign is calling for a reform of expensive unarranged overdraft charges. Read our response to the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) review of high cost credit and overdrafts.
  • We're calling for action to prevent credit card borrowing becoming long-term debt. Read our response to the FCA's proposals (PDF) for remedies on persistent credit card debt.
  • We also think the rules governing the payday loan market need to be improved.
  • We’re working with the End Child Poverty coalition to campaign for the government to protect families from getting into unsustainable debt from buying essential household goods through rent-to-own companies. Insights from our clients have revealed that financially vulnerable people are paying as much as three times the basic price for fridges, sofas and other items through rent-to-own.

The financially excluded can struggle to access mainstream credit and have to use high cost credit. Find out more by reading our report on the need to further expand the supply of affordable credit.

Also in this section...

Find out more about household and personal debt trends in the UK: 

Policy and research home

Research and reports

Personal debt statistics

Our work in Parliament

Contact our policy team

Our policy blog

get the latest debt news

Read our policy blog on Medium.com, written by industry experts

UK household debt stats

Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2018