Stepchange/CCCS – www.cccs.co.uk
CCCS or Consumer Credit Counselling Service to give it it’s full name, today is known as StepChange. It’s a popular UK debt charity which has been around since 1993 and provides valuable, free, impartial and confidential debt advice.
What’s impresssive about StepChange is that they use an independent review service called ReviewCentre which is real people rating the service that Stepchange provides. In June 2013, their average rating was 4.9 out of 5 which says a lot about the quality of advice provided and the trust people place in them.
They were originally set up in conjunction with Birmingham Settlement and the Money Advice Association (now the Institute of Money Advisers) and today National Debtline is part of the Money Advice Trust, a registered charity.
They maintain that because they’ve specialised in debt for such a long period of time clients of theirs can be sure that they’ll provide impartial debt advice and the right practical solution for each individual. A useful service is that where a repayment plan has been set up, they provide aftercare and support through dedicated, what they refer to as ‘guidance teams’, so you’re not left to your own devices.
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Thank god for the CCCS. Is all I can say. I foolishly left it too long before contacting them about a £16k debt. The week after my initial contact I was offered a phone appointment (which cost me nothing as they called me). After the call I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted of my shoulders and I slept soundly that night for the first time in a very long time. I had another consultation a week later and days later received my welcome pack. My first payment to my creditors starts this month and it makes me happy that I don't have to dogde calls anymore. It's also a relief that the CCCS can communicate by email so they don't have to write to me. I would recommend them to anyone as their staff are very sympathetic and not judgemental. There is also no extra cost to you to use them unlike some companies who want to charge you - adding to your debt. I now have a budget planner for the first time ever in my working life and the good thing also is that if I know in advance of a payment not accounted for in my budget like car service, the CCCS can make an adjustment to reflect this so I'm not left struggling that month.
I would just like to correct the bottom statement that the CCCS were set up by banks. This is incorrect. The charity was fouded by two men - Vic Ware and Malcolm Hurlston after seing similar organisations helping people in America. It was certainly supported by some financial institutions, such as Barclays as well as the government run Registry Trust and the credit reference agency Experian but it has always worked, and continues to work, completely independently of the banks. It is also not true, in response to another review on herre, that they work for the banks. The aim of the CCCS is to provide impartial and compassionate support and assistance primarily to the customer although the banks and creditors will be treated fairly with their legal rights taken into account - i.e if someone can afford to pay to their debts they will be advised to do so. If they can't other realistic options will be advised instead. I have never had any issues with the CCCS or the way they work and since they are a charity and offer all of this for free, I believe credit should be given where credit is due.
I started a DMP with CCCS last October and have been very pleased with the way my plan has been handled. The people there are very helpful and can usually give you advice on what to do. I feel a lot happier knowing my debt will be cleared quicker and some of the banks I deal with have frozen the interest until the debt is paid off. Others have lowered it which is making life a lot easier.
I think CCCS are doing a really good job and they have helped me a lot. They are a well-respected charity and all the banks know of them and know that if you are with them you are really trying to pay off the debt.
I did go to an organisation that were charging £30.00 a month and also the first 3 months payments went to them before they paid any creditors.
I pulled out as I felt that all the money I paid should go to the creditors and the amount I was paying them was half the amount I am paying CCCS which would have taken twice as long even though they said it would only be 5-6 years!! It would have been more like 8 years but probably more than that.
I would recommend them to anyone and I am really glad I went with them.
CCCS offered me a DMP for my 7 creditors promising to reduce the debt to nothing within approx 36 months. However, one of my creditors is very particular about their required payment date and CCCS can only pay on the same date each month. Basically every month, I get 4 letters from the creditor and dozens of phonecalls telling me that payment has not been received on time. They add £12.00 per month late fee to my debt and after 24 months my debt with this creditor is higher than when we started. I have been telling CCCS this since we started out but they are not interested, all they keep saying is that they cannot change their pay date and my creditor will have to change their due by date. I want to drop this creditor from my DMP and pay them direct to stop all the charges but CCCS won't allow this. They are supposed to be helping me reduce my debts but are in fact increasing one of them. May have to drop out of the DMP altogether and pay all 7 creditors their remaining balances direct. Such a shame because the other 6 are working really well and are reducing quickly. All this because CCCS are stubborn and won't allow change to the part of the DMP that isn't working.
CCCS continue to support my family through these difflecult times brought about by the financial crash and housing collapse,both outwith our control,which with the vast reduction of our saleries again outwith our control,has meant we are longer able to manage our debt, as was the case before the recession.The advice given by the CCCS has been of tremendous help in fighting off those debt companies more than willing to drive people to suicide by their continuing telephone calls and threats to pay what we can not afford.The government need to step up to the mark to stop debt companies being able to frighten people half to death with their continuing telephone calls and letters,especially having reached an agreed monthly payment discussed with the them and the CCCS.The CCCS should be commened.
In May 2010, we contacted the CCCS re our situation and debts. By July 2010, a token payment arrangement was set up, giving us six months in which to think about what we wanted to do long-term re our debts. Each creditor was dealt with accordingly by the CCCS staff members, and in February 2011 our case was transferred over to an IVA practitiioner, who pays CCCS for their assistance. The IVA monthly payments are shared between the IVA practitioner, creditors and CCCS over a 5 year period, meaning that the creditors will get something as opposed to nothing (i.e. bankruptcy).
We had no nasty letters from our creditors and no bailiffs turned up on our door - this is because they were dealt with properly in the first instance by CCCS. Our creditors were actually pleased that we had contacted CCCS with a view to sorting out the situation. Creditors like proactive behaviour in their customers. We were not afraid to telephone them to update them, or email CCCS to ask them to write to them. In fact, we chased the creditors with emails, letters and phonecalls as opposed to the other way around.
We consider ourselves fortunate: we were told verbally and in writing what we can do, what CCCS can / would do, etc, before actually doing anything. I am amazed to hear that people have had bad experiences with CCCS.
I have been with the cccs for 3 months now, they have been very helpful to me everytime iv phone or e-mailed them, (and that has been a lot), as i am still a new customer i am still getting phone calls and letters from my creditors, which are very frightning, i am a single parent and have always managed to pay my own way, but one silly mistake and i found myself in financial difficulty, the only thing that keeps me going is the fact my kids depend on me, if it wasnt for them of the cccs i dont think i would be here today to tell the tale, the amount of pressure you get from creditors, who say they would like to help is horific, one of my creditors which i would love to name but best not, phone me up to 10 times a day, other wont accept the cccs offer and send threatning letters, cccs have told me it will calm down once the regular payments have been received, i just wish the creditors would take a minute to think about the individual and not just the number you become to them. I am trying to pay off my debts, it may take a bit longer than expected but they will get their money back. they right off large amounts every year, so why be so harsh with the people that are trying to pay back what the owe! I am glad that there is always an understanding ear at the end of the phone to talk to, and to take some of the fear away, if there wasnt that help as i said earlier i dont think i would be here. Thanks to all staff at the cccs, and keep up the good work
I contacted CCCS when I finally hit a financial brick wall with payday loans - I just got so sick of never having any money, worrying myself stupid everytime the phone rings and postman hate. I owed £1600 in total which does not sound too bad I know but I am a single parent too. The call took 45 minutes and best to have all your info ready. I bealed my head off all through the call because I was so relieved to tell someone about my situation. I have now agreed to pay £65.00 a month over 2.5 years, I feel relaxed for the first time in over a year tonight = straight after the call a payday loan company rang me chasing payment and I answered the phone!!! They were shocked too !!!! I told them I have agreed a DMP, they didn't even want to speak to me!!! She gave me her details and asked me to pass them on to CCCS and went!!! More advice, I now manage my money via internet banking - no more ATM anxiety I know exactly how much I aven't got - FACE THE FEAR FOLKS!!! I PROMISE YOU WILL FEEL BETTER
Me and my Husband have just started an IVA through CCCS and having over £35000 of debt could not see any other way out, firstly let me say how fantastic they have been i have not had any issues at all from start to finish of collecting all the information that they needed to proceed with the IVA it has taken about 2 and 1/2 months. The budget that we have been given to live off is very adequate and also if you earn overtime you are allows to keep the first 10% of what your net pay is then anything after that gets split 50/50 which i think is very good, also we are allowed to open a savings account and save money as well now which does not get taken from us as it is not a windfall or a inheritance, so anyone who is struggling i would seriously consider using them as they where brilliant for us.
I was advised to use CCCS by National Debtline who sent them my budget. I had a callback, by appointment, 10 anxious days later. The woman was extremely cold, told me I was shopping in the wrong shops and could reduce my bills. I am a pensioner and have long experience of living on the breadline, so found this upsetting and insulting. I had to explain I cannot trudge from shop to shop because I am disabled. She sounded as if she didn't believe me. She was combative over everything on the list of outgoings. It takes considerable courage to take action over one's debts, and this was a horrible experience. She decided that it would take much too long to pay off my debts so her only advice was to sell my house.
I went back to the nice people at National Debtline who put me onto Payplan, who are kind and friendly - on my side. This may be because I had re written my budget to be able afford £100 per month, which is the minimum payment accepted for a Debt Management Plan, but kindness and reassurance and sleeping at night is worth cutting down on food and heating. My plan has just gone to my creditors with no replies yet but it was done very quickly. They can be a little slow to answer emails, but fingers crossed.
I would be worthwhile mentioning that the most unfriendly and unco-operative creditor is, surpisingly, the Co-operative Bank, the only one threatening Court action. So much for the old Rochdale Pioneers.