We provide consultancy services to debt advisers across England and Wales - specifically all Local Citizen’s Advice (LCA), local authorities, housing associations, and free to client advice agencies. 

If you’re struggling with a complicated debt advice query, we can help.

Our specialist service provides free expert guidance on any client debt cases.

However, we are unable to assist with the following issues:

  • Cases where the client is the claimant in the action.
  • We don’t provide a checking of agreement service. Adviser expected to identify issues first before contacting us.  
  • CSA assessments. We only advise on the enforcement side of CSA issues.
  • Appeals – limited what we can do on these issues.
  • Business debts
  • Costs assessments / challenges
  • Benefits (we can usually help with benefit related debt issues)
  • Housing rights/eligibility (for all housing related queries you may be eligible to use the NHAS service)
  • Consumer
  • Immigration

We have guidance that explains how to submit an enquiry clearly and concisely.

There are two ways you can submit enquiries:

Web enquiries can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via our online webform.

We will respond to enquiries made through our online form within 3 working days for non urgent enquiries (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays) - or 24 hours in urgent cases.

Our telephone service is available by calling: 03300 580 404.

Our telephone service is open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

If you have multiple enquiries which relate to different clients, please submit them separately.

An urgent enquiry could include:  imminent visit from an Enforcement Officer / bailiff, court hearing listed, responding to court forms by a specific date, eviction, removal of goods, disconnection of services such as gas / electric.

We may respond to some enquiries within 3 working days if we do not agree with your definition of urgent. For example, an impending client appointment would not be considered to be an urgent issue.

We will respond to enquiries made through our online form within 3 working days for non urgent enquiries (excluding weekends and Bank Holidays) - or 24 hours in urgent cases.

Please clearly indicate if your client is facing an emergency with their debt enquiry.

See What does your service consider as an urgent case? above.

No, we are only able to help with queries from England and Wales.

Additional documents can be provided by emailing them to specialistdebt@shelter.org.uk

The documents cannot be accepted unless all client details are redacted. 

Please ensure all client information is redacted to avoid delays in dealing with your query.

Web enquiries can be made 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our telephone service is open 9am - 5pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

We only collect the personal details we need to fulfil the service you expect from us. We do not collect or record any personal details about your clients. 

When using our service via telephone or our web form, we will ask you for: 

  • whether you are a member of the IMA
  • your name
  • the name of the organisation you work for
  • your email address and contact telephone number

We will keep all your case information - including notes, letters and information given to us in relation to your enquiry - in a confidential record.

View privacy statement

No, advisers can only access the service the our web enquiry form or telephone service.

Unfortunately, we can’t give advice to members of the public.

Clients will need to visit the Money and Pensions Service website or contact their nearest Local Citizens Advice for help.

We do not provide an agreement checking service. 

Depending on our capacity and the severity of the client's situation we may be able to assist with supported casework, witness statements or skeleton arguments. Although we would expect the first-tier adviser to have made an attempt to do this themselves. 

We are more likely to be able to help if we are only required to sense check your own work.

The DRO Team no longer deals with pre-submission enquiries and as such may direct callers to the Specialist Debt Advice Service.

SDAS are the agreed point of technical advice for DROs and where possible we will provide answers and information to specific queries and possibly make suggestions on how to proceed.

Available resources should be used before approaching the service. Useful resources include: 

  • Citizens Advice DRO Toolkit contained on Advisernet  
  • Insolvency Service Intermediary Guidance notes 
  • Insolvency service newsletters
  • Insolvency Service Technical manual chapter 46
  • Insolvency Act 1986 Part 7A 
  • Wiseradviser DRO Toolkit 
  • CPAG Debt Advice handbook

If you can’t find the answer in resources, contact us. 

In some circumstances we can ask the DRO Team for an opinion, however, they will look on a case by case basis on the merits of the case. 

Clients should be made aware of the risk of submitting their application and losing the fee if declined. 

The SDAS team cannot make decisions on specific questions relating to individual DRO applications as the DRO Team are the only people authorised to do so.

When submitting a repeat enquiry online please add your 7 digit reference number you will have been allocated beginning with the letter C. 

If making a repeat enquiry by telephone please have the case reference number to hand.

It is essential that the client is not present when you contact the service.

No, however, we wil call you back if you have submited an online enquiry and we need further information.

Your enquiry and response are unique to you and only you have access to these details.

All of our debt team can access the case notes and can deal with a repeat enquiry. We cannot guarantee that the same team member will deal with a repeat enquiry.

If your enquiry has been rejected or sign posted it will be because your enquiry is outside of our remit. 

See What types of enquiries can SDAS help with, and what types of enquiries are we unable to help with? above.

Contact specialistdebt@shelter.org.uk and we will look into the matter. If possible, please provide your original enquiry confirming the date you submitted your enquiry.

You can make a complaint by: 

  • email to info@shelter.org.uk
  • telephone on 0300 330 1234
  • fax on 0344 515 2973 
  • or by letter to Shelter Supporter Helpdesk, PO Box 1477, Sheffield S1 4YQ

Please indicate that your complaint relates to the Specialist Debt Advice Service. 

We also welcome suggestions on how we can improve the service, these can be sent to specialistdebt@shelter.org.uk.