A Christian debt counselling charity says it will be able to expand its areas of work after receiving a licence from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
Christians Against Poverty (not to be confused with the long-standing ecumenical agency Church Action on Poverty - CAP) seeks to help vulnerable people hit by endemic debt problems.
This week an announcement was made that the organisation has been granted a Group Consumer Credit Licence through the OFT.
This means that Christians Against Poverty can offer more free debt help alongside other not-for-profit services like Citizens Advice Bureaux.
CEO Matt Barlow commented: “This licence changes CAP into an organisation which will test and give consumer credit licences as well as hold one, a responsibility we take very seriously."
He continued: “It will mean our charity will be able to partner in new ways with churches around the country to provide excellent debt counselling that truly changes lives. In a recent survey 94 per cent of clients described the service as 'life-transforming' or 'a great help'."
"I am very proud of our team and to see the rigour and professionalism of our policies and procedures being such that we can become Group Licence holders," said Mr Barlow.
The National Secular Society's media page has suggested that the group is using public funds for proselytising, but its supporters strongly deny this.
Christians Against Poverty offers its debt counselling ias part of what it describes as "a holistic service", tackling priority debts and bills as well as secondary debts through a network of 190 church-based centres.
Money saving expert Martin Lewis says this approach especially suits people whose debts are bound up with emotional issues like family breakdown, job loss, illness, addiction or bereavement.
In these circumstances Christians Against Poverty provides extra face-to-face care and long-term support through home visits.
Other organisations that hold a Group Consumer Credit Licence (http://www.oft.gov.uk/OFTwork/credit-licensing/group-licences/) include Advice UK, the Citizens Advice Bureaux, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and Liquidators and Receivers.