History of Debt Advice Foundation - Debt Advice Foundation

History of Debt Advice Foundation


  • Debt Advice Foundation’s new Money and Pensions Service National Services telephone debt advice contract commences in February.

  • The charity’s new digital webchat service is launched in February in order to broaden service access and improve helpline accessibility.
  • The charity provided essential money management lessons to over 10,000 primary school age children during the year through its National Lottery funded financial capability education programme DebtAware.

  • Karol Sanderson steps down as a Trustee of the charity.


  • Following a Money and Pensions Service debt advice recommissioning exercise, Debt Advice Foundation was pleased to be part of a successful National Services bid, which will enable the charity to continue providing telephone debt advice for a further three years.

  • A new module was introduced to the charity’s financial capability education programme called “The Environment and Money”, which examines the interaction between environmental and financial factors and how they often conflict with each other.

  • Debt Advice Foundation introduced an in-house welfare benefits entitlement checking service in order to assist the growing number of people affected by the cost of living crisis.


  • Debt Advice Foundation retained its Advice Service Alliance Advice Quality Standard (AQS) accreditation. 
  • Over 10,000 children, from over 150 primary schools across the UK, took part in the charity’s financial capability education programme.
  • The Money and Pensions Service extended Debt Advice Foundation’s grant agreement for the provision of telephone debt advice for a further twelve months.


  • Debt Advice Foundation reacted quickly to the emerging COVID-19 global health crisis by successfully implementing a secure home-working solution for its workforce, allowing the charity to continue to operate its free national telephone helpline, whilst keeping its employees safe.
  • The Money and Pensions Service extended Debt Advice Foundation’s grant agreement for the provision of telephone debt advice for a further twelve months.


  • Debt Advice Foundation was awarded a five year National Lottery grant to help fund its education work in primary schools.
  • The charity’s DebtAware programme was shortlisted for the Centre for Social Justice Financial Education Award.
  • Debt Advice Foundation retained its Advice Service Alliance Advice Quality Standard (AQS) accreditation.
  • In August 2019, the charity celebrated 10 years since since its telephone helpline opened to the public.


  • Debt Advice Foundation entered into a formal grant agreement with Money Advice Service for the provision of telephone debt advice. 
  • In February, Debt Advice Foundation welcomed the Bank of England’s Chief Economist, Andy Haldane, to the charity’s offices to discuss a wide range of topics from the strategic aims of the programme to the vital subjects the course covers and the unique way the charity delivers its money lessons within schools.
  • The start of the school year saw the release of a new course resource titled “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”, which was written by two Year 7 children from ChristChurch Primary School in Charnock Richard, continuing the strong co-design theme that underpins the charity’s peer-to-peer ethos.


  • Sue Ireland is appointed as trustee.
  • The number of children receiving the charity’s financial capability education lessons passed 10,000 annually from 148 schools across England and Scotland.
  • The charity’s financial capability lessons were featured on the BBC’s consumer affairs programme Right on the Money.
  • Development and release of My Budget, a personalised financial resilience tool for Debt Advice Foundation’s clients.


  • Chairman of the Board of Trustees Dennis Benson honoured as an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Education and Commerce.
  • DebtAware awarded its 10th school full accreditation status, with 125 schools in the programme and over 9,000 children receiving the lessons.
  • Debt Advice Foundation given full membership of the National Homelessness Advice Service (NHAS) allowing a more holistic service, with advisers able to receive extra training on all aspects of debt including that caused by homelessness and housing issues.
  • Debt Advice Foundation retained its Advice Service Alliance Advice Quality Standard (AQS) accreditation.


  • The DebtAware website is launched, with information about our financial education and information work and a dedicated area for schools involved in our programmes.
  • Peter Sargent is appointed as Trustee.
  • The one-hundredth primary school joined the growing DebtAware programme.
  • DebtAware awarded its first primary school full accreditation status, which means the school has achieved and maintained high standards of strategic planning, delivery, development and evaluation of the DebtAware programme.
  • The charity published the fifth and sixth instalments of the Money Diaries series of financial literacy guides.
  • DebtAware was recognised by the Yorkshire and Clydesdale Bank Foundation Spirit of the Community Awards for its ground-breaking peer to peer financial education programme.
  • The charity established formal partnerships with two Big Local lottery funded community groups to take the DebtAware programme into local schools.
  • Following the handover of regulation of the sector from the Office of Fair Trading to the Financial Conduct Authority, Debt Advice Foundation became authorised and regulated by the FCA.


  • The charity is awarded the Advice Service Alliance’s Advice Quality Standard (formerly the Legal Services Commission’s General Help Quality Mark).
  • The charity is listed by the Money Advice Service as an accredited, free provider of debt advice on its online debt advice locator page (the Money Advice Service is an independent service set up by government to help people manage their money).
  • Work starts on a new website for DebtAware.
  • DebtAware is rolled out to schools, with new classroom materials sporting the new branding.
  • Jeff Moore is appointed as Trustee.


  • We establish DebtAware as an umbrella name for our financial education work.
  • Financial education becomes part of the national curriculum for the first time.
  • We were invited to take part in the Competition and Markets Authority’s market investigation into payday lending. We were one of five charities representing consumer interests at hearings with the CMA, and were pleased to note that many of the important points we raised were taken on board during the investigation.
  • Debt Advice Foundation advisor Justine McGinnis reaches the finals of the Credit Today awards in the Debt Counsellor of the Year category.
  • Brian Souter MBE, former deputy head of our financial education partner Southlands High School in Chorley, joins as our Education Manager.


  • Our peer-to-peer education programme is a finalist in the Credit Today Awards, in the Money Advice Initiative of the Year category.
  • A BBC Breakfast outside broadcast at Southlands High School showcased our money management lessons to the nation.
  • The legal status of Debt Advice Foundation was changed from a charitable trust with a trading subsidiary to an incorporated charity bringing it in to line with other large national charities. We were issued with a new charity number to mark this change.
  • Andrew Redmond steps down as a Trustee of the charity.


  • Karol Sanderson, a former Director of Enforcement at Insolvency Service was appointed as Trustee.
  • Paul Latham steps down as a Trustee of the charity as he moves to America with his family.
  • Jack Rowlands is appointed as a Trustee of the charity.
  • Debt Advice Foundation becomes a registered supporter of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People.
  • Debt Advice Foundation becomes a registered supporter of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Debt and Personal Finance.
  • Debt Advice Foundation and Southlands High School are awarded the Personal Finance Education Group’s Centre of Excellence status for their pioneering work in financial education.


  • The UK’s first dedicated Money Education Centre opens at Southlands High School, funded and supported by Debt Advice Foundation. A programme of peer-to-peer money management lessons are developed by Southlands students which they teach to local primary school children.
  • The Money Diaries, written by Southlands High School students, are awarded the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG) quality mark.
  • The charity also became a member of AdviceUK, the UK’s largest support network for free, independent advice centres.
  • All of the charity’s advisors became associate or full members of the Institute of Money Advisors (IMA), a charitable body that aims to promote free money advice and develop professional standards.


  • A downloadable Personal Debt Analyser tool is launched, giving people the ability to calculate the extent of their debt problems.  The Analyser produces individual statements of affairs and personalised letters to creditors.
  • The Financial Service Authority’s Money Advice Service lists Debt Advice Foundation as a source of free and impartial debt advice.
  • Debt Advice Foundation is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading to carry our regulated activities and its free national debt helpline goes live, providing immediate advice and guidance to people struggling with the burden of personal debt.
  • The charity establishes its helpline centre in Darwen, near Blackburn, Lancashire
  • Debt Advice Foundation’s objectives are updated and approved by the Charities Commission.
  • The Trustees launch the Debt Advice Foundation’s Ethical Debt Advice Charter.
  • Trustee Andrew Redmond steps down as non-executive director of Fairpoint Group plc.


  • The “Money Diaries” project is launched in partnership with Southlands High School in Chorley, Lancashire.
  • The name of the charity’s registered trading company was changed from Treegrove Limited to Debt Advice Foundation Limited.
  • Trustee Andrew Redmond steps down as Chief Executive Officer of Fairpoint Group Plc.


  • Trustees Paul Latham and John Reynard step down as Directors of Fairpoint Group Plc, formerly Debt Free Direct Group Plc.
  • The charity’s name is amended to Debt Advice Foundation.
  • Debt Advice Foundation’s objectives are amended to focus on providing free advice, supporting education and carrying out research in the fields of debt awareness and prevention.
  • Dennis Benson is appointed chairman.
  • A trading subsidiary, Treegrove Limited (it’s “off-the-shelf” name), is established so the charity can pilot a free debt advice helpline.
  • The charity’s name is changed to Debt Advice Trust.


  • The charity is first registered in Dec 2002 under a holding name of Fonsco Trust by founding Trustees, Andrew Redmond, Paul Latham and John Reynard. 
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