Get help for New Year debt problems
Many households are experiencing an uncomfortable debt hangover this New Year, as bills start to come in from the Christmas spending period and pre-existing debts that many ignored during December have to be dealt with.
January to March is traditionally the peak time for people seeking advice about debt from Citizens Advice Bureaux in the North East, after a sharp dip during December.
This winter could be worse than usual for those struggling with debt, as VAT has increased from 17.5% to 20%, putting additional pressure on household budgets.
Moira Macfarlane, Alnwick Citizens Advice Bureau manager says “Households struggling to manage their debts in the post-Christmas period should seek advice as soon as possible. The sooner you get help, the easier it will be to deal with the situation”.
Those seeking debt advice should be aware of the rising numbers of fee-charging debt management firms. Unlike charities (such as CAB, National Debt Line or Consumer Credit Counselling Service) which provide help for free, debt management firms aim to make money by charging clients. This means that those in financial distress end up paying substantially more than they originally owed.
Organisations who charge fees can afford to spend large sums of money on advertising and internet promotion and they often use trading names that mislead clients into thinking that they are dealing with a free, impartial agency.
“People who are struggling with debt should contact their local Citizens Advice Bureau for help. In Alnwick, we can discuss the various options, including a new debt service that provides advice via video link, made possible thanks to funding from Northern Rock Foundation. “Clients can come into the Alnwick bureau and a live video link is established with another Citizens Advice Bureau based in Northumberland, where specialist debt advisors are on hand to help.”
Telephone Alnwick CAB on 01665 604135.