Getting Advice on Debt

Breathing Space

Step Change have been lobbying government since 2015 about a Breathing Space scheme. In May 2018, the Financial Guidance and Claims act included provisions for a Breathing Space scheme by secondary legislation.

Step Change did significant research into debt and debt management and realised that a Breathing Space scheme is needed before peoples debt becomes unmanageable. A Breathing Space scheme is meant to allow people to stabilise their finances with ongoing protection for people repaying their debts. 

At present, “The problem is that people in England and Wales can only get a guarantee of protection by entering into one of the existing statutory insolvency schemes. While insolvency schemes give vital help to people whose debt problems have already become intractable, they are not generally a suitable or accessible option for people in temporary financial difficulties who still have a good chance of bringing their debts under control given the space and support to recover”. The new planned Breathing Space is outlined below. 


All of the following give free, impartial and confidential debt advice. Young people should be very wary of organisations that charge fees, and stick to charities instead. 

Offers telephone support and self help packs for those who have priority debts. They also offer a range of fact sheets on debt topics including bailiff action and debt management plans.

Offers telephone and online support for those who have non-priority debts. 

  • Christians Against Poverty                                                
  • Provides money courses aiming to empower people to gain control of their finances and prevent debt. CAP is currently the largest face-to-face provider of adult financial education in the UK 

Offers specialist face to face support but often has long waiting times 

     Debt counselling charity for anyone in a CAP centre catchment area

     Offers free debt management plans and debt consolidation advice to help people become debt-free.  

     Provides a free credit check and report from Callcredit, with no obligation to sign up for premium services. 

It doesn’t give advice but this tool reveals how long it will take to pay off credit card debt by only making minimum repayments.