Debt charity StepChange has announced that it will need to reduce its staff by 10% as part of company cutbacks.

Phil Andrew, Chief Executive of StepChange announced the measures in a blog post on the company website. The charity’s funding structure is dependant upon advice volume and its income varying based upon market conditions. The charity advised around 200,000 clients in 2020, compared to over 300,000 clients in 2019.

Andrew said “The past year has been nothing if not surreal and in many ways contradictory, with the future looking equally unpredictable. It is with those sentiments that I write this update, as I think it is important to explain what may seem like contrary actions and forces to those who are not as enmeshed in the world of debt advice as we are.”

“As a prudent charity we will not compromise our financial stability by relying on future funding to support our current operating costs. We have already made use of the furlough scheme to seek to match our capacity and costs to the temporary reduction in demand.”

This Covid-related shift in our operating landscape also happens to coincide with major operational change, which was already under way before the pandemic, to make our ways of working significantly more flexible and scalable to prevailing market conditions.”

“The time has come to lean further into these new ways of working, working with the grain of our ongoing shift towards greater reliance on multi-channel and client self-service options, to match the need for a leaner organisational structure in the light of current funding conditions.”

“Regretfully, this means StepChange proposes to reduce its staff headcount by around 140–170 colleagues, approximately 10% of the workforce, through a programme of compulsory redundancies. Consultation is currently under way, and affected colleagues will be supported as they seek new opportunities. Other measures including a pay freeze and continuing use of furlough are also under way.”

“Maintaining the charity’s strong financial position has been an underlying driver for these decisions, as has the vision to see beyond the prevailing situation.”