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What is debt advice and should you consider it?

It's not easy dealing with debt and it can sometimes be hard to know where to turn to. If you are struggling with problem debt, it could be a good idea to seek debt advice - it's free, it's confidential and it can be a huge weight off your shoulders.

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Here we look at what debt advice is, when you might like to consider it, and where you can find it.

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What does a debt adviser do?

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Debt advisers (also known as debt counsellors, money advisers and financial advisers) work with people who are struggling to pay off debt.

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They will work with you to find the most affordable ways to pay off debt, as well as provide suggestions on the best ways to deal with the impacts. They might be able to find ways for you to manage your debts that you didn't think were possible, or they might suggest ways to deal with debts that you didn’t know about.

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They will never judge you or make you feel bad about your situation and they will always be happy to talk to you, however big or small your problem might be.

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Some examples of the ways they might help you include:

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  • Helping you to create a budget
  • Building a personalised action plan
  • Communicating with your creditors
  • Organising some breathing space
  • Explaining technical language to you
  • Setting up a debt management plan (this is where you consolidate debts into a single monthly payment and sharing this amongst the creditors)
  • Helping you set up an IVA

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You will not be forced to take any actions - debt advisors simply give impartial suggestions on the best way to clear your debts. They are highly trained, FCA-regulated and fully impartial. They will help your situation and be there to support you for as long as you need them.

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You can access free, high-quality debt advice from several charities (we have provided links further down). There are debt management companies out there that charge fees for debt management plans (on average around 17% of the monthly payment). Remember that the same plans are free at debt charities.

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Seeking advice won’t affect your credit score. However, if the charity advises you to take a certain action such as set up a debt management plan then this will likely be recorded on your credit file. Don’t let this put you off seeking help; if you are in debt then chances are your credit score has already been affected so if the best advice is to take action, this will often ultimately be a good thing for your credit file.

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What are the signs that I should consider debt advice?

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Some indicators that you should consider debt advice are:

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  • You are worried about being behind on payments
  • You feel under pressure from your creditors
  • You feel like you have no control over your finances
  • You are worried about bailiffs, sheriff officers or repossession

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StepChange offers a useful tool for understanding the kind of advice or guidance you might like to consider.

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Remember that even if you don't choose to receive debt advice there are lots of articles that you can read to help your situation. StepChange, Citizens Advice and Money Helper all provide useful money guidance.

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Where can I find debt advice?

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You can find free debt advice from these charities:

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StepChange offers debt advice and a range of debt solutions.

Telephone: 0800 138 1111

Opening times: 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. 8am to 4pm, Saturday.

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National Debtline offers advice and resources to people with debt problems. Advisers are available online or over the phone. Completing their online budget budget first will help speed things up.‍

Telephone: 0808 808 4000

Opening times: 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday.

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Citizens Advice helps people with debt problems and consumer issues. You can speak to a debt adviser with their online chat service.

Telephone: 0800 240 4420

Opening times: 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

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Debt Action NI provides advice and information in each council of Northern Ireland. They also have an online chat.

Telephone: 0800 915 4604

Email: advice@adviceeni.net

Opening times: See opening times for your council

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Debt Advice Foundation provides debt advice over the phone. You can also arrange for a call-back.

Telephone: 0800 043 4050

Opening times: 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday

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Debt Support Trust provides advice and guidance. They also have a debt test you can take to give you an idea of which solutions could be useful for you. You can fill out an online form or contact them via:

Telephone: 0800 085 0226

Email: contact@debtsupporttrust.org.uk

Opening times: 8am to 7pm, Monday to Friday

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PayPlan offers debt advice and solutions. Fill out their three-step form online with your details and one of their advisers will call you back at a time that's convenient.

Telephone: 0800 280 2816

Opening times: 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday. 9am to 3pm, Saturday.

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Community Money Advice offer in-person debt advice. You can find your local centre here. Email or call before to make an appointment.

Telephone numbers and email addresses will vary from centre to centre.

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Business Debtline is a debt advice service for businesses and self-employed individuals. You can webchat with an adviser or speak to them over the phone.

Telephone: 0800 197 6026

Opening times: 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday

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Other useful resources:

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Samaritans National Helpline

A charity aimed at helping people in emotional distress. You can call any time, day or night, or write them a letter or email if you'd prefer.

Telephone: 116 123

Email: jo@samaritans.org

Opening times: 24/7

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Mind

A mental health charity that provides help and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem.

Telephone: 0300 123 3393

Email:Β info@mind.org.uk

Opening times: 9am to 6pm, Monday to Friday

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