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About us

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We Are Debt Free London

Debt Free London is a unique partnership of charities led by Toynbee Hall and funded by the Money and Pensions Service, that provides free, expert advice to Londoners with problem debt.

Our trained and accredited advisors support Londoners with all types of money worries - from rent and council tax arrears, to credit card and catalogue debt. We work with clients to prioritise their bills & debts, helping them to write letters and advocating on their behalf.

The most common types of debt we help with remain council tax bills, rent arrears, and credit or store card loans. Both council tax and rent arrears are ‘priority debts’ which can have serious consequences for the individual – including the threat of bailiffs, homelessness or even imprisonment.

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Over the past 12 months, we’ve helped 23,732 people with their problem debt - 80% of whom said they worry about money ‘quite often’ or ‘all the time’.

We’re piloting new ways in which people can reach us – for instance, through video advice kiosks in local community centres designed for those who don’t have access to technology at home, or are not tech-savvy enough to use it on their own.

We’ve also launched our new Budget Planner which uses Open Banking technology and online Credit Reference Agencies to instantly check the extent of a client’s debt and give advisors the full story of their income and expenditure.

Debt advice services and community partnerships like ours can play an essential part in this. But if we’re to go even further and stop people falling into debt in the first place, we need to forge new alliances and trial new ways of working – with City Hall, local authorities, housing associations, as well as with those in the voluntary sector.

We owe it to all the Londoners who’ve made such enormous sacrifices over the past few months and to all the frontline workers still risking their lives daily. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to build a better, fairer society and ensure families can thrive in the future – free from debt and the constant worry it brings.

Values at Debt Free London

To help guide our service we have seven values to ensure Debt Free London is accessible, trustworthy and on your side. These values were written by our Fair Finance Panel, a panel made up of 23 people who have received advice from us in the past.

Be independent and on the client's side

By:

  • Being client focused
  • Acting with integrity
  • Treating the client with empathy and respect
  • Offering confidential and impartial advice
  • Being transparent about how the advice is funded
  • Speaking out about unfairness when we find it

Be visible and easy to access

By:

  • Having a clear, jargon free website
  • Making sure that other services can refer easily to us
  • Ensuring all physical spaces can be accessed by all
  • Offering a variety of ways to get advice and contact the adviser (in person, phone, sms, WhatsApp, email, webchat etc.)
  • Explaining to the client how, when, and how long their advisor will work with them

Providing a high quality debt advice service

By:

  • Investing in staff through training and information to keep their skills and knowledge up to date
  • Ensuring that advisors keep accurate records of advice and confirm advice to the client where required
  • Checking the quality of advisors’ work
  • Ensuring experienced supervisors are in place to support advisors in their work and wellbeing
  • Giving clients the opportunity to give feedback on the service they have received
  • Innovating to improve advice and access to meet client needs

Care for our client’s health and wellbeing

By:

  • Seeing beyond the client’s presenting issue
  • Referring the client to organisations that can help them tackle the challenges that they face
  • Help develop the client’s skills and confidence through empowerment in the debt advice process

Have a wider impact

By:

  • Assessing causes of debt and sharing that information in an anonymous way
  • Challenging unfair practices and legislation
  • Challenging the stigma associated with people facing financial difficulties and poverty

Be committed to diversity and inclusivity

By:

  • Maintaining a non-judgmental and open attitude to all clients
  • Acknowledging the extent to which both societal factors as well as life experiences can affect the client’s financial circumstances
  • Deepen relationships with all people in our communities
  • Challenge discrimination and tackle systemic inequality

Be there for the community

By:

  • Listening to the needs of the communities that we serve
  • Working with partners to make change happen for the community
  • Encouraging a cohesive and aspirational community