Chief executive to leave StepChange

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity, will leave the organisation later this year.

Chief executive to leave StepChange

He has been with the free advice charity for nearly four years and was previously a non-executive member of the customer fairness committee at British Gas.

StepChange has now began the process of recruiting a successor which is likely to take until the end of the year and O’Connor will remain in the position until then.

The charity helped 600,000 people last year – equating to one person every 53 seconds. This figure increased by nine percent from 550,000 in 2015.

The profile of the charity’s client base has also changed. Around 60 percent of all clients are aged under 40 compared to five years ago when this figure was only at eight percent.

During his time in the position as chief executive, O’Connor has called on creditors to introduce “breathing space” for customers. The charity has lobbied for a scheme that allows debtors to repay their debts in full, with charges frozen, through a debt payment programme over an extended period.

Since this campaign was launched, both the Conservative and Labour parties have pledged to introduce breathing space as part of their manifestos for the upcoming election.

O’Connor has welcomed this and said the next government should work to ensure better alternatives to dangerous forms of high-cost credit are available.

He added: “With consumer borrowing back at levels not seen since the economic crisis and continuing to grow strongly, the next government needs to commit to a concerted effort to tackle problem debt.”

On leaving the company, O’Connor said: “It has been a privilege to lead StepChange Debt Charity and its 1,500 excellent staff. We have helped many people in desperate need and last year we supported our clients to reduce their debts by more than £500m.”

Sir Hector Sants, chairman of StepChange Debt Charity said: “I would like to thank Mike for his outstanding contribution to the development of the charity. He will be leaving the organisation in a far stronger position and has made a difference to the lives of many people.”