Learning how debt is impacting on York families
Today I met Jackie Adie and Sara Harbord, who run debt advice sessions in York, in partnership with Christians Against Poverty – the national UK debt counselling charity.
Jackie is based at the Gateway Church in Acomb whilst Sara works in the Tang Hall area. People in need of help managing their debts can visit the advice sessions at the Gateway or at Tang Hall Community Centre or they can arrange for a caseworker to visit them in their own homes. The advisors help to work out realistic budgets and prioritise living expenses and essential bills. They also negotiate affordable payments with creditors.
The squeeze on family finances owing to tax rises, spending cuts and inflation is causing many hard pressed families to get in to debt. The average household debt in the UK is now £8,025 (excluding mortgages) and this figure increases to £15,432 if the average is based on the number of households who actually have some form of unsecured loan. The Citizens Advice Bureau have confirmed that they are dealing with 8,910 new debt problems in the UK each day. In York the CAB advised over 500 people last year and their debts reached almost 10 million pounds. This year the figure is likely to be much higher.
The people who seek debt advice are usually desperate and often feel that their debts are out of control. They need the advice of specialist debt advisers to help them to take control of their finances. Problems with debt can be overwhelming and at times very frightening. This can leave people struggling to make payments they cannot afford and finding that payments for essential bills such as mortgages or rent, council tax and household bills cannot be met.
Trained Debt Councillors can be critical in helping people to manage their debts by arranging sensible repayment plans. They can help to get interest frozen or reduced and by bringing payments down to an affordable amount. In some cases, they also deal with court papers and bailiff action.
In the current economic climate, it is very easy for families to get into debt and this can lead to a downward spiral if they do not receive help to enable them to take control of their finances. Debt Advisors do a fantastic job and I would urge anyone who is worried about their debts to seek help at the earliest opportunity.