For such a small word, debt comes with a lot of baggage and dealing with it can feel like a relentless uphill battle. But if you’re wrestling with debt, there’s no need to struggle alone because help is at hand. Here’s where to turn for debt advice in the UK.
Debt advice organisations
There are numerous organisations that can help you deal with debt in the UK, but you should bear a few things in mind. Some debt management firms will charge for their services – which can seem a little counterproductive. Whether you feel their advice is worth the expense is down to you, but don’t forget that their primary motivation is likely to be commercial gain.
On the other hand, there are several not-for-profit organisations that can help you for free. Not only do they offer impartial advice, but they’ll also be able to guide you through all of your options and provide you with a step-by-step action plan. Here’s where you can find free resources and guidance:
Set up by the government, this is a one-stop shop for (you’ve guessed it) money advice. From mortgages to home insurance, the advice here is clearly set out and signposts next steps. Their debt and borrowing hub is no exception and you can find a wealth of advice about how to manage and prioritise your debts.
You can read the Service’s advice online or contact them via webchat, WhatsApp or phone.
This is one of the largest debt advice charities in the UK and it offers comprehensive guidance. The charity has 25 years’ worth of experience and has helped more than five million people free themselves from debt, repaying £4 billion in the process.
StepChange also has online tools that can help you spot potential money issues so you can nip them in the bud. For example, there’s a credit card debt calculator and a 60-second debt test.
Their three-step online service will present you with options based on your level of debt. Alternatively, you can phone an advisor for free.
As well as debt advice, this charity offers a number of practical online tools. There’s a budget calculator to help you visualise where your money goes. Plus, you’ll also find a number of letter templates you can download for free. These are grouped by theme, so, for example: letters to help you negotiate with your creditors (people you owe money to) or how to make a complaint about them.
A new coronavirus hub has also been added if you’re worried about loss of income or need guidance about entitlements.
Advice is provided online, but you can speak to an advisor by phone (calls are free). Webchat and email are also available.
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This is one of the few organisations where you can get face-to-face debt advice in the UK. Of course, most in-person meetings are not happening right now, but they also offer a webchat and telephone service. If you want to call them, you can ring their national advice line (charged at local rates).
If you prefer, you can also contact your local Citizens Advice by phone and you may also be able to arrange a face-to-face appointment for when such services resume.
As well as free debt advice, this charity has a number of debt and money management tools that you can use without charge. Here, you’ll be able to analyse your debt, plan a budget, check what benefits you’re entitled to and more.
You can phone the Debt Advice Foundation for free or request a call back. The callback service is also free and you can specify a time convenient to you.
PayPlan provides detailed written guides about debt management and the solutions available. Unlike the others on this list, PayPlan is not a charity but their advice is still free.
Services are provided online and the organisation estimates that you could have a personalised solution in around 15 minutes. If you’d prefer to speak to someone, you can call their freephone helpline or use their webchat service.
It’s worth knowing that not all services offered by PayPlan are free. The company also offers paid services and promotes the use of its ‘associated companies’ when it comes to arranging some debt solutions like an individual voluntary agreement (IVA). Debt solutions like IVAs cost money to arrange, so whoever you use is likely to charge, but PayPlan does have commercial motivations for recommending certain companies to you.
Information you will need
Whether you use an online, phone, webchat or face-to-face service, you’ll need as much information about your debt as possible. If you can, it’s handy to have details of:
- Your income – this includes wages and anything you earn from gigs on the side.
- Your outgoings – including utility, credit card and store card bills, plus any outstanding loans you have.
- Who you owe money to and how much.
- When you first missed a payment (if applicable).
- Any steps your creditors have taken (for example, formal letters or final warnings).
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