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Our industry-leading research

Taking a closer look at the causes and consequences of problem debt.

Living on a DMP

Our latest research. Reports and insights into problem debt in the UK.

Our research and reports examine the developing trends of problem debt in the UK, analysing the evidence and shaping policy proposals for the long-term protection of people experiencing financial issues.

Breaking the link: A closer look at vulnerable people in debt

June 2018 - Our new briefing looks at the financial circumstances of our clients with vulnerabilities.

Our latest research and reports...

Behind on the basics

May 2018

Our briefing looks at households in arrears on their essential bills. 140,000 people who received debt advice from us in 2017 were behind on at least one of their essential household bills.

Affordable alternatives to high cost credit

March 2018

Our research looks at what sort of affordable credit can help low income households, so they don't have to turn to high cost credit.

Stuck in the red: Millions can't get out of their overdrafts

December 2017

Our new briefing looks at the impact persistent overdraft debt is having in the UK. Our clients to share their experiences about how their lives are affected by overdraft debt.

The problems of third party deductions

September 2017

Our new briefing looks at how third party deductions from benefits can make it difficult for families to pay for essentials, force them to turn to credit to keep on top of bills, and cause hardship.

Saving safety net report

July 2017

This paper summarises and responds to Pension Policy Institute (PPI) research commissioned by StepChange Debt Charity analysing the impact on retirement income of creating an accessible savings fund within a pension.

The PPI found the impact on low-to-median earners would be minimal, meaning no greater than a 2.1% reduction in weekly retirement income. This trade-off between averting a debt crisis and a minor reduction in pension income appears acceptable and would be welcome in most cases.

The high cost of credit: The need for more affordable alternatives to high cost credit

July 2017

Our new report finds that over a million people in Britain have to rely on high cost credit to cover the cost of essentials. There is a need for clear and coordinated action to build more accessible and affordable credit alternatives for the most financially vulnerable.

DAS survey results: 2017

May 2017

We surveyed over 450 clients who are paying off their debts through the DAS scheme in Scotland.

Payday loans: The next generation

November 2016

In the latest of our statistics yearbook series, the Statistics Mid-Yearbook provides an update on personal debt trends for the first half of 2016.

Falling into the red: How overdrafts can lead to problem debt

October 2016

Regularly having to go into an overdraft, or over an overdraft limit, and being hit by unarranged overdraft charges can lead to and exacerbate financial difficulties for many financially vulnerable households.

Boosting lower income savings

September 2016

The Help-to-Save scheme itself will not be enough alone to solve the problem. In the long term more innovative approaches to saving must be looked at by government and commercial financial services providers.

Our briefing discusses how HTS should be implemented and what more can be done to boost lower-income saving. It contains the results of a survey of our clients on the provisions of the HTS scheme and their ongoing savings needs.

Creditor and debt collector conduct: What's making debt problems worse?

July 2016

Unfair treatment from creditors holds back those in problem debt. Bad lending decisions, poor product design and aggressive debt collection practices can make severe debt problems more likely, more harmful and harder to deal with.

Council Tax Debt in Scotland: A growing problem

March 2016

Council Tax arrears and how these are addressed are one of the fastest growing debt problems that we've seen in the past five years. This report examines the data behind Scottish clients seeking our help with their Council Tax arrears in order to get a clearer picture of the extent of the problem and how policy solutions could make a difference.

The Credit Safety Net: Consumer credit trends and problem debt

February 2016

Our report looks at consumer credit trends in Britain, the use of credit as a safety net and how this can lead to personal debt problems. It also highlights strategies and solutions to address the use of unsustainable credit and the resulting financial difficulties.

Navigating the New Normal: Income shocks and financial difficulty

December 2015

Despite a steady economic recovery and low headline unemployment, 2.6 million people are in severe problem debt and 8.8 million people are in moderate financial difficulty. Income shocks are tipping millions of people into problem debt.

Held Back by Debt: How Britain's lack of financial resilience is tipping people into a debt trap

September 2015

People will always face ups and downs that they have to adjust to, but recent trends in the jobs market, with fewer working people in traditional permanent, full-time, steady-wage jobs, mean more people experience more frequent shocks and changes as part of everyday life.

Becoming a Nation of Savers: Keeping families out of debt by helping them prepare for a rainy day

August 2015

Having accessible savings helps families avoid problem debt, promotes financial inclusion and leads to wider social benefits regarding employment, healthcare, and children's life prospects, but families in the UK are facing a crisis when it comes to saving for a rainy day.

Council Tax Arrears: The impact of aggressive enforcement action

March 2015

Since 2010, StepChange Debt Charity has seen a 372% rise in the number of people we've helped with Council Tax arrears. Only payday loans grew faster as a client debt across this period.

An Action Plan on Problem Debt: How the UK Government can reduce the £8.3 billion social cost of problem debt

January 2015

The British economy is recovering, but many families are still waiting to see their household finances return to a genuinely steady footing. Many are living on the edge, with 21 million people in Britain struggling with their bills.

The Social Cost of Problem Debt in the UK

October 2014

Problem debt costs the UK £8.3bn through the damage it causes to family life, mental and physical health, productivity and employment prospects and costs to the welfare state, the NHS, local government and other agencies.

The Debt Trap: The impact of debt on families with children

May 2014

Despite millions of children living in families with problem debt, very little research has explored the impact it has on them. Our report, written alongside The Children's Society, lifts the lid on the devastating impact debt can have on children.

Life on the Edge: A report on the state of the nation's family finances

April 2014

From the 8.8 million people over indebted to the £1.4 trillion personal debt we British households owe, debt has become a major media debate. Our report looks at the factors that are driving people into financial difficulty, and which groups are most likely to be living on the edge.


What does personal debt look like in the UK? (Transcript of Mike O'Connor keynote speech)  - 22 January 2014

StepChange Debt Charity Consumer Debt and Money Report Q3 2012 (pdf) - 22 January 2013

Working Households’ Experiences of Debt Problems (pdf) - 21 November 2012

To access reports produced under our previous name, Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), please contact us.

Also in this section...

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

Policy and research home

Policy campaigns

Personal debt statistics

Our work in Parliament

Media centre - latest news

get the latest debt news

Our response to the July 2017 insolvency statistics


Published 28 July, 2017

"A small decline in the numbers of people going insolvent should not provide any false comfort over the risks to household finances."

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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.

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© StepChange Debt Charity 2018