Debt counselling is a service that helps people who are having problems managing their finances.
This kind of service can be used by people who are worried about getting into financial difficulties and those who are already experiencing problems.
Debt counsellors can help you at any stage here. They can, for example, help you from the beginning of the debt management process
and assess where you stand with your debts, how much you owe and how your finances look generally. They can then help you decide which steps to take to eradicate your debts and, often, can then go on to help you with the debt management process itself. Or you can simply ask for help at any stage during this process.
The services on offer here will vary according to what kind of debt counselling service you use.
Some will purely be advice based but others will also be able to offer practical help. It’s worth remembering here as well that some debt counsellors will work across the entire debt spectrum – i.e. they will be able to give you advice on all kinds of solutions. Others may be restricted to only working with specific types of debt
counselling. So, what options do you have here?
- Charity based debt counselling: There are a number of national charities in the UK that can help you get the counselling and advice you need. The Citizens Advice Bureau (www.nacab.org.uk) for example can give you website based advice or you can visit one of their offices to meet with a counsellor. The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (www.cccs.co.uk) is a charity that offers web or telephone based counselling and a range of practical debt management solutions which you can use. Both of these options are free of charge.
- Banks: Given that so many consumers are experiencing problems at the moment many high street banks have put together a range of debt counselling services to help people out. In this instance you will probably be invited into your local branch to talk to an advisor who can talk you through your options. Although this advice is free here and can be useful in general terms do be aware that any specific debt management solutions you are recommended to take may revolve around products that the bank itself offers.
- Information websites: There are many different websites that you can use to learn more about your options when it comes to debt. These websites may not be able to help you sort out a solution in all cases but they can give you the information that you need to make a start. The National Debtline (www.nationaldebtline.co.uk) has a range of fact sheets, budget planners and useful advice that you can view online or download. The UK Insolvency Helpline (www.insolvencyhelpline.co.uk) is also a useful source of advice.
In all cases it is vital to make a move as early as you can to assess your situation and to sort out your debts
. This can be done completely confidentially and without obligation via these sources and this kind of advice is generally offered free of charge.