For Eleanor Smith life was good. When she wanted something for her and her family she bought it credit was easy. She ran up tens
of thousands of pounds in debt We just found things escalating and then when I was made redundant on maternity leave, we’ve got a child we couldn’t afford to pay the
minimums off on all of our credit We were having phone calls from our creditors sometimes up to seven times a day Five, six different letters of post
coming through the door After doing an online search seven years ago Eleanor found PayPlan, one of the UK’s largest free to consumer debt management companies It has helped more than a million
people deal with their debt problems. They were very sympathetic, very understanding and the advice they offered us and assisted in terms of the communication with the creditors was just invaluable. We set up a Debt Management Plan, we initially owed 30,000 pounds and we’ve actually now paid 23,000 of that off.
So there is now light at the end of the tunnel Right now, I think that’s a real problem for many households in the UK a few years ago typically people contacting PayPlan for help might have been at the lower end of the income level and potentially might have lived in rented accommodation but actually right now we see a whole spectrum of people coming to us for debt advice. So it’s homeowners, it’s young families it’s people in their 40s, it’s blue collar, it’s white collar It’s a whole spectrum of people that are struggling with debts so one of the biggest challenges we have is trying to encourage people to say yes I am in debt and yes, I need help and if they come to PayPlan we we deal with them confidentially. We’re impartial, and we’ll work with the
creditors with their authority. PayPlan works long term with consumers to create a budget that’s sensible and realistic and allows for essential and
priority payments to be made. It can negotiate directly with creditors to produce a repayment plan that is above all, sustainable. Be it a Debt Management Plan or Individual Voluntary Arrangement Our models unusual in the marketplace in
that rather than charge a client which we didn’t want to do when we set out.
We asked creditors for support so if the client pays 100 pounds a month to us say We make sure that the whole 100 pounds goes towards paying for their debts We then ask the creditors for a voluntary contribution to cover our costs which means that everything a client pays to us is genuinely going to reduce their debt. If it’s an Individual Voluntary Arrangement we charge an industry standard percentage of any monies distributed the funding from both of those allows us to provide a holistic service to every client like on taxes. The business was launched by Rachel Duffey’s parents with another business partner in 1992 they wanted to support police and
armed forces personnel who despaired at possible disciplinary action
for going into debt There were small numbers of fee charging debt management companies out there So if you did know where to go for help,
it would be expensive but most clients simply
didn’t know of their options at all PayPlan has grown into a business with more than a thousand employees based in Lincolnshire and Portugal Debt management is a much bigger. more competitive market now – some of it tarnished with a bad image But PayPlan explains that by staying true to the ethics on which it built the business it’s insured a strong reputation earning referrals from organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau Police Federation and UNISON. For creditors it’s arguably a lifeline too. The creditors face a real problem in today’s market. They’re seeing customers with multiple debt problems and unfortunately Creditors haven’t got the capacity of skill sets to deal with all these multiple problems And they’re really looking for a company that can help them taking a holistic view of that customers position And that’s where they see us as a real benefit they can refer a customer to PayPlan,
they know that which we’re free service so we don’t charge a customer anything We know we’re independent. We’re impartial. So there’s going to be no bias It’s a confidential service, we’ll look after that customer and we’ve got the time and the expertise
to do a full review of that customer and then subsequently provide long-term support that the creditors are unable to do. Once we have that piece in place the financials look after themselves. The first point of contact for a client is
PayPlan’s trained helpline staff who they say are always non-judgemental Our helpline staff in my opinion are some of the best. They really really care about what’s actually
happening with them, you know the clients because a lot of them have been in very similar situations themselves. So they’re looking for that initial report building with the client On the initial call when the client first comes through what we’re looking to do is to find out exactly what the client needs from us so we can take that need and build on it Keen to stay at the cutting edge going forward the company has developed PayPlan Plus An online tool for clients to check their progress 24/7 Many more of them it seems could
be heading PayPlan’s way Right now the economy is growing so that’s that got to be good news but my concern is that we’ve still got a few years ahead of us where people will still struggle with debts. One of the things we see at PayPlan is underemployment, and so people that are working but perhaps all turn in the salaries
that they were two or three years ago if mortgage rates start to increase, if gas and electricity starts to increase again, they will really struggle So I’m afraid I see that there will be a huge demand for PayPlan’s services going forward Our business is about helping people in debt and that’s the core of everything that we do We haven’t deviated from that and everybody is able to buy into that overall mission statement if you like and we don’t chop and change that.
That’s ingrained in our DNA you you