Yorkshire debt support charity says 100 jobs are no longer at risk

A Yorkshire charity which supports people struggling with debt has rowed back on highly controversial redundancy plans, claiming 100 jobs are no longer at risk.

StepChange Debt Charity is based in Leeds city centre
StepChange Debt Charity is based in Leeds city centre

StepChange Debt Charity announced earlier this year it was looking to make up to 170 redundancies, as it was struggling with funding issues due to a significant drop in demand during lockdown.

Unite the Union which has been campaigning against the redundancies, claims the charity made “panicked plans” and it “will be overwhelmed” when Government support schemes introduced to help people during the pandemic end and demand increases.

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But the charity, which is based in Leeds city centre, then announced it has reduced the number of planned redundancies to 70, following a consultation of cost-cutting measures.

A charity spokesman said "The proposal to make redundancies at StepChange is one that we all wish we could avoid. However, we strongly believe that these actions are in the long-term interest of the charity and our clients.

"The volume of people currently coming to us for debt advice has been significantly suppressed since the start of the pandemic.

"In 2020, we helped 200,000 people through full debt advice, compared to more than 300,000 in 2019. This year is on track to see continuing reduced demand for debt advice.

"The inescapable reality is that our funding structure depends upon advice volume, which is why we are sadly having to introduce cost cutting measures that include, but are not limited to, redundancies.

"We simply do not know when, and by how much, demand for debt advice will return over coming months or years."

He added: "We are seeking to offer as much support as we can to those affected by the proposals."

The majority of the charity’s funding comes from contributions creditors make when they help individuals make debt repayment, but it also receives some financial support from the Government.