Charity sees 10% rise in debt advice support

10th April 2024

StepChange debt charity says it has seen an 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.

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 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.”