If you’re struggling with debt, there are a number of charities, organisations, and online resources that can offer support. This guide focuses on consumer debt.
The pandemic has proved hugely damaging for many and there are rising numbers of bankruptcies. At the same time, inflation is rising, energy bills are soaring and food costs are more expensive. No wonder many are seeing this as a ‘perfect storm’ in terms of a debt crisis.
This guide from Company Debt focuses on who you can contact if you need free guidance.
It aims to be the more comprehensive resource of its type and is updated frequently.
Founded in 1935, Citizen’s Advice is a national charity supported by 20,000 trained volunteers who provides a range of consumer advice services, including for debt.
Guidance is available face to face, phone, and online chat.
Citizen’s Advice are a well established and well run organisation whose support spans a variety of areas beyond debt, including legal, consumer and housing.They are free, confidential, impartial and independent.
Call their Adviceline (England) on 0800 144 8848
Advicelink (Wales) – 0800 7002 2020
Debt Advice Foundation
A national debt advice charity offering free and confidential support for individuals to those worried about loans, credit, and debt.
Their philosophy is the prevention and cure of unmanageable consumer debt.
Their free telephone debt counselling service helps over 10,000 people every year.
Last year DAF helped callers deal with over £30m of unsecured debt. The average unsecured caller debt was £17,501. Credit cards accounted for the highest proportion of debt (38%).
Call their helpline on 0800 043 4050
Debt Support Trust
A money advice charity that offers information and not for profit advisers to provide guidance on debt solutions.
Their mission is: “To support people in managing their debt problems by offering debt advice today, whilst finding solutions to minimise severe personal debt problems in the future.”
They can assist with credit cards, personal loans, payday loans, store cards, car finance, overpayment of benefits and many others.
Call their Helpline on 0800 085 0226.
Money Advice Trust
A national charity that helps people tackle their debts and better manage money. It oversees the National Debtline and Business Debtline so if you enquire through them you will be directed accordingly.
In 2020, Money Advice Trust’ advisers provided help to over 160,000 people, and their advice websites had 1.9 million visits.
Read their How to Deal with Debt Guide here
Provided by the Work & Pensions Service, Money Helper is an online advice service that includes guidance on debt-related problems.
It brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: Money Advice Service, The Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.
Open to everyone, MoneyHelper is focusses on helping people clear their debts, reduce spending and make the most of their income. To support loved ones, plan ahead for major purchases and find out about entitlements. To build up savings and pensions, and know their options.
Provides free and independent advice to people with debt.
Their website offers guides, useful fact sheets, budgeting tools and sample letters to help you write to your creditors.
You can also get debt advice by using their webchat service, emailing them or by calling the helpline. They commit to:
- to provide expert debt advisers who are supportive and trained to a high standard;
- to stay committed to providing free, impartial and confidential debt advice;
- to talk you through the debt advice options that are right for you;
- to keep all of your personal information confidential; and
- not to pass your details on to any other organisation without your permission.
Call National Debtline Helpline – 0808 808 4000
This is not a charity, but it provides services free of charge to users, and these include Debt Management Plans.
Helpline – 0800 280 2816
Helps people deal with their debt problems, based on a confidential assessment of their situation and offers a range of solutions aimed at individuals.
Webchat and helpline – 0800 138 1111
The Money Charity
The UK’s Financial Capability charity – provides education, information, and guidance to people including on managing money. Services are provided through support to others, such as in education and communities. Information on debt is also available on the website.
Breathing Space is also known as the Debt Respite Scheme and is aimed at those with more serious debt problems such as rent, mortgage arrears, and debts such as payday loans, other borrowings, and gas and electricity arrears. The scheme freezes payment demands and legal action while the individual takes free debt advice and can last for a standard 60-day break or another agreed period if there is a mental health crisis.
There are a number of conditions and referral to the scheme must be made either by a charity as with Step Change, Citizens Advice or National Debtline, or a mental health professional.
Community Money Advice
Community Money Advice (CMA) is a national charity who’s centres help thousands of people, from all walks of life, escape from the blight of indebtedness by providing free, unconditional, fully confidential advice and practical support.
Their fully trained Debt Advisers and Money Mentors offer advice specific to each client’s needs and they give as much time and support as required, in order to help the client become debt free, whilst working towards financial stability. During the advice process, clients will also be taught budgeting and money management skills, to ensure they have control over their finances, enabling them to remain debt free in the future.
An independent advice network that provides guidance on personal and business debt in addition to factsheets on debt and money management tools.
Helpline – 0800 915 4604
Accountant in Bankruptcy
Accountant in Bankruptcy administers personal bankruptcy and records corporate insolvencies in Scotland. It also has information on how to deal with debt.
Businesses have a smaller variety of charities than consumers when it comes to debt. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a wide range of resources available for support.
Below are a range of places where you can seek free debt advice, which include national charities, HM & Revenue themselves, and a few useful business forums where you can find helpful responses from other business owners.
Most insolvency practitioners will also offer free advice, and we spend a lot of time ourselves helping business owners with early stage questions about creditor pressure, threatening letters, bailiff action or HMRC arrears.
Business Debtline help self- employed and small businesses with debt. They offers fact sheets and template letters that can be used for a range of debt situations, along with guidance from webchat and email.
They can offer:
- Guides, fact sheets, budgeting tools and sample letters to help you write to your creditors
- Advice from expert debt advisers who are supportive and trained to a high standard
- Support that means over 50% of the businesses they speak to continue to trade
While HMRC are a huge organisation and the UK’s largest creditor they want businesses to thrive and will always offer support if they, and when they feel you are being genuine and honest with them.
The Gov.UK website has information for those who are having problems paying tax, including the Time to Pay instalment scheme. To get Time to Pay your tax you should:
- Be a UK citizen
- Have been actively trading for a minimum of six months
- Not be in an existing time to pay arrangement
- Be able to demonstrate your ability to repay what you owe them within the agreed timeframe, usually no more than 12 months.
Because more businesses are under pressure, banks are offering greater support if you have financial problems and are finding it hard to deal with loan repayments for example.
If you a pay a fee for business banking you should make contact to see what help could be available such with debt consolidation or further borrowing.
Most banks offer:
- A 30 day repayment window if you need it
- Repayment plans
- Budget Planner software
- Dedicated support lines where you can discuss your situation
UK Business Forums
Covers a wide range of business topics including around insolvency and liquidation. Forums are aimed at small businesses and sole traders.
The site offers:
- The UK’s biggest community for small business owners
- The ability to create, comment and send messages to other business owners
- It’s a safe and supportive community where questions can be asked, and answers/help/advice/similar experiences can be shared.
Business Advice Forums
Aimed at those starting or managing a small business and includes forums on debt issues.
Business Advice Forums offers:
- An international business and webmaster community.
- Advice, knowledge and support to set up, manage and grow your small business – whether that be a traditional business, home based business or online website business.
- A forum that is free to join and new members are always welcome
The stress create by debt can be overwhelming. It is common to report anxiety, overwhelm and depression when worrying persistently about money.
Below are a range of places where you can seek help for debt stress.
These involve charities that provide telephone counselling or face to face meetings. As well as how to get therapist referal from the NHS, and useful resources.
National Charity Mind explains the link between money worries and mental heath including problems linked to avoidance, negative feelings and overspending.
They can offer:
- A helpline you can call on 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm Monday to Friday) or text 86463
- Mental health services in local communities across England and Wales.
- Side by Side is a supportive online community where you can listen, share and be heard.
The NHS website offers some useful information on coping with financial worries, including links to furthe resources and how to get a referral for a therapist near you.
Find an NHS psychological therapies service (IAPT) here (you’ll need to registered with a GP first)
Samaritans offers a confidential listening service to anyone who is in distress. This could include if you have money worries and are also experiencing suicidal thoughts. The service is available 24/7 and 365 days a year – the number is 116 123.
Every day, Samaritans volunteers respond to around 10,000 calls for help.
- A free phone line you can call 24/7
- Email support via email@example.com
- A self-helpd app so you can keep track of how you’re feeling, and get recommendations for things you can do to help yourself cope, feel better and stay safe in a crisis
Visit Samaritans website
SANEline is a national out-of-hours mental health helpline offering specialist emotional support, guidance and information to anyone affected by mental illness, including family, friends and carers.
- A helpline you can call on 0300 304 7000 (4:30pm-10:30pm)
- Email support firstname.lastname@example.org
- The helpline is a confidential service for those aged 16 or over
Every day, Shout take around 1,500 conversations with children, young people and adults in immediate need of support with their mental health.
To start a conversation, text the word ‘SHOUT’ to 85258.
Shout is a free, confidential, anonymous service for anyone in the UK. It won’t appear on your phone bill.