UK debt charity CIO banks on low code for scale amid uncertain future

StepChange CIO Lorna Allan has the unenviable task of scaling to future market demand, facilitating omni-channel experiences and supporting a changing workplace — all while the charity faces its own economic uncertainty.

lorna allan
Lorna Allan

As CIO of Leeds-based StepChange, the largest debt charity in the UK, Lorna Allan has a lot on her plate. In the face of a national debt crisis, and yet surprisingly low demand for free debt advice, she's looking to build a scalable, digital infrastructure to support clients for when demand rises again, while simultaneously adapting the organisation's IT infrastructure for the hybrid workplace.

If that wasn't enough, this needs to be done as cost-efficiently and flexibly as possible. The non-profit has come under its own financial pressure of late, and this has, in part, pushed Allan's team to take a low-code approach to application development, through which the charity can build new services quickly, take advantage of new technologies and improve the client experience across multiple channels.

The charity, whose mission is to eradicate problem debt, and which does this through the provision of free debt advice and repayment plans, has helped clients repay creditors £4 billion over its 28-year existence, and says that the number of people with problem debt has tripled over the last year.

Debt is a growing problem

Separately, research from the Legatum Institute has shown that more than 20% of the UK population is now in poverty, with the Financial Conduct Authority reporting that the number of people struggling with 'low financial resilience' — meaning over-indebtedness, low savings and low or erratic earnings — increased by a third to 14.2 million last October.

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