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Real People, Real Stories

By | Financial Help, News

Real People, Real Stories

41% of men in England, Scotland and Wales, aged 20-59, do not seek support as they prefer to solve their own problems. This is according to a new survey from the Samaritans. This is backed up by our own data; almost twice as many women reach out to us for help with their debts than men (65% to 35%).

As a result of the data, Samaritans launched a campaign called Real People, Real Stories. The campaign sees men who have overcome tough times share their stories to encourage men, who are most at risk of suicide, to seek help by contacting Samaritans 24/7 free on 116 123 or Samaritans.org.

Paul McDonald, Executive Director of External Affairs at Samaritans, said: “We didn’t want to create just another awareness campaign. We wanted something authentic and emotive from men who have been through tough times, sharing their really powerful, positive and hopeful stories to encourage other men to seek help before they reach crisis point.”

“Our survey results found that although 78% of men aged 20-59 say it’s okay to admit you’re not feeling okay, many still avoid speaking out when they’re finding life tough. A quarter (25%) felt their problems weren’t important enough to warrant calling a helpline, which is one of the reasons this awareness campaign is so important.”

The survey found that some of the main reasons why these men find life tough and struggle include debt or financial worries (36%), relationship breakdown or family problems (30%), loneliness or isolation (29%) and job loss or job-related problems (25%).

Real People Real Stories

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50, with men aged 20-59 at the biggest risk of suicide. Our new awareness campaign in partnership with Network Rail shares real stories from men who have been through tough times, encouraging other men to seek help when they need it. http://ow.ly/1BvC30o5TmV #RealPeopleRealStories

Posted by Samaritans on Monday, 18 March 2019

If you’ve stopped doing things you usually love, you’re tearful, not eating or sleeping properly, drifting from people close to you, taking alcohol or drugs to cope or self-harming, then please talk to the Samaritans today, or someone you trust.

Call them on 116 123 or email them at jo@samaritans.org

Struggling to Cope?

Signs to look for:

  • Lacking energy or feeling tired
  • Feeling exhausted all the time
  • Experiencing ‘brain fog’, find it hard to think clearly
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Feelings restless and agitated
  • Feeling tearful, wanting or cry all the time
  • Not wanting to talk to or be with people
  • Not wanting to do things you usually enjoy
  • Using alcohol or drugs to cope with feelings
  • Finding it hard to cope with everyday things and tasks
  • Experiencing ‘burn out’

If you don’t see what you’re feeling on this list, please still get in touch.

And if you do think these symptoms sound like you, or someone you know, please still get in touch with the Samaritans on 116 123 or at jo@samaritans.org.

They can also help if you are worried about someone else too.

Samaritans Debt Help
gambling-and-suicide

Problem Gamblers 15 Times More Likely To Commit Suicide

By | Financial Help, News

Problem Gamblers 15 Times More Likely To Commit Suicide

People with gambling problems are 15 times more likely to commit suicide.

A recent report from academics at Lund University in Sweden, conducted the largest study of its kind, and found “a significantly elevated risk of suicide among participants compared with the general population over an 11-year period.”

The study found that the suicide rate of men, aged between 20 and 49, increased 19 times if they had a gambling problem. This reduces slightly to 15 times when looking at men and women across all ages.

It has been said that if the figures were applied to the UK, then gambling would account for around 550 suicides a year (or more than ten per week).

“This research confirms the high number of gambling-related suicides that Gambling with Lives families brought to public attention after the deaths of our children,” said Charles and Liz Ritchie, who founded the charity after their son Jack took his own life aged 24 following a gambling addiction.

“The lack of recognition of the scale of this problem has been shocking and we call on the government to take immediate action to save lives.”

Gambling and Debt

Click here for more

GamStop

GamStop.co.uk

GamStop is a free service that lets you put controls in place to restrict your online gambling activities. You will be prevented from using gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in Great Britain, for a period of your choosing.

Learn More

Useful Contacts

Call GamCare on 0808 8020 133 8am – midnight or visit their website at GamCare.org.uk

Talking to people in a similar position is a great way to help yourself. Support groups such as Gamblers Anonymous or SMART Recovery can help put you in touch with people to help keep your gambling under control.

Gambling with Lives – Supporting families bereaved by gambling. Raising awareness of the dangers of gambling. Call 07864 299158.

Samaritans – For Everyone – 116 123
Campaign Against Living Miserably – For Men – 0800 585858
Papyrus – Under 35 Year Olds – 0800 068 41 41

Anders Hakansson, professor of addiction medicine at Lund University and a psychiatrist in a gambling disorder unit, stated, “The causes [of suicide] are very likely to be multi-factoral but it’s likely that some will contribute more than others.”

He said it was hard to isolate the role played by gambling, citing co-morbidity, which refers to the existence of multiple overlapping factors that may be present in subjects who take their own life.

For instance, if a subject was diagnosed with depression as well as a gambling disorder, the likelihood of suicide increased even further but the risk did not appear to rise if substance misuse was added.

He said: “It’s not difficult to argue that gambling contributes very strongly to suicidal thinking, especially when debts are so severe that suicide becomes part of the solution a person thinks about in that kind of crisis, with the feeling of what you have caused to your family members.”

If you are struggling with gambling, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org, then read our Gambling and Debt page for more information.

XBox One X on BrightHouse

By | Financial Help

XBox One X on BrightHouse

We’ve recently had a client who was paying for an XBox One X through BrightHouse. When we looked into it, what we found was shocking.

BrightHouse

Xbox One X. 1TB. Forza 7 & Horizon 4 Bundle

  • Product Price: £606.44
  • Weekly Payment: £9.75
  • Number of Weeks: 130
  • APR: 99.9%
  • Total Payable: £1,267.50

Currys – PC World

Xbox One X. 1TB. Forza 7 & Horizon 4 Bundle

  • Product Price: £379.00
  • Monthly Payment: £14.56
  • Number of Months: 36
  • APR: 24.9%
  • Total Payable: £524.16

Firstly, I will say that £10 a week for an XBox One, sounds like a great deal. However, when you look a little closer, the total repayment of £1,267.50 is scandalous! You can buy THREE of the same product from Currys (and this isn’t an advert for Currys, there are probably cheaper deals than this out there. Shop around)! Even if you take out credit at Currys, it works out an amazing £743.34 cheaper!

On top of that, even the basic product price from BrightHouse is more expensive than Currys’ price after interest is added on.

Prices correct as of 21-02-2019.

In Short…

We understand that there are sometimes situations when companies such as BrightHouse are needed, and we’re not here to tell you the obvious that £500 is less than £1,200. However… if you genuinely NEED something, please shop around, and look at the long-term cost.

Money Worries Affecting Workplace Performance

By | Financial Help, News

Money Worries Affecting Workplace Performance

The inaugural Close Brothers Financial Wellbeing Index shows that 39 percent of employees worry about money ‘always’ or ‘often’, with younger workers the most affected.

The report shows that money worries are affecting more than 77 percent of employee’s working productivity, which obviously has a massive impact on companies nationwide.

Jeanette Makings, head of financial education at Close Brothers, said the problem was a “bottom line issue” that businesses needed to start acting on.

“If an employee is worried about money, they don’t park that worry in the umbrella stand at the door. It impacts their decision-making functionality, and they might use work hours to take care of issues, or take time off work. It starts to impact their overall health,” she said.

“All those factors and more mean businesses are not getting the best from their employees. This is a bottom-line issue [and] doing nothing is no longer an option.”

So-called ‘millennials’ are the most affected, with 87 percent admitting worrying about money whilst at work. Of those aged between 35-54 the figure drops slightly to 72 percent.

The same survey also surveyed more than 1,000 employers, and they found that most businesses “dramatically overestimate” their employee’s financial wellbeing. This is despite almost a quarter noting reduced productivity as a result of money-related stress. Other effects that money worries can have on productivity include; loss of talent, higher short-term absences, higher long-term absences, reduction in retirees, and higher healthcare costs.

“Despite the growing awareness of the need for workplace financial wellbeing, organisations seem to be struggling to find clarity, transparency and meaningful measurement on this issue,” said Makings. She said businesses were well placed to improve employees’ financial wellbeing, as they were able to provide better value for money on benefits than an individual and could distribute financial education, advice and investment solutions.

Is the worry and stress of debt getting you down? Is it having a negative impact on your work and home life? Read our Debt and Stress page for more information.

Are You An Employer?

Are you an employer? Contact us now to find out how we could help your staff with their debt worries.

Almost A Third Of People Struggle To Pay Their Bills

By | Financial Help, News

A Third Of People Struggle To Pay Bills

According a recent report from United Utilities, 3-in-10 people struggle to pay their bills in the North West of England.

Louise Beardmore from United Utilities, said: “This can be a particularly challenging time of the year for many families in the North West.

“While it’s very timely to discuss and raise issues around affordability on Blue Monday, it’s also something that needs ongoing attention. We are therefore launching the North West financial hardship hub, which is the first of its kind in the country, and will be a valuable new resource for the money advice community in our region.”

She added: “This is the second Affordability event we have organised. From our point of view, if customers are struggling with water bills, they are likely to be struggling to pay most of their household bills.

“It can be difficult for a single organisation to make a widespread difference and we believe that a collaborative regional partnership can go way beyond what any one organisation could do alone.

“We are proving this with the launch of the North West Hardship Hub, which has been created following the collective outcome of last year’s event.

“Our new research worryingly found that more than one in four people did not speak to anyone about their recent financial hardship, so we want everyone living in the North West to know help is out there. The hub gives the region’s money advice community the tools to help pinpoint the right support for the people who come to them for help.”

Struggling To Pay Your Bills?

If you are struggling to pay your bills, talk to our trained advisers. There is no cost in talking to us and you are under absolutely no obligation to use any of the solutions we may suggest to you. Our friendly advisers are experienced and non-judgemental.

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Record Debt Levels

By | Financial Help, News

Record Debt Levels

UK households now have an average of £15,385 of unsecured debts!

This shocking figure comes from a recent TUC survey, the trade union body suggests this rise is due to a combination of austerity and wage stagnation in 2018. This figure is likely to not be entirely representative however, as the TUC included student loans in these figures, and this is a different kind of debt in that you only repay it when you can afford it, and it has no effect on your credit rating or ability to obtain further credit. The Bank of England places the average debt at around half the TUC’s amount.

The research also found out that on average, workers are expected to start the year with £252 debt left over from the festive period, with the majority of people unable to repay even this debt until May!

Know Your Balance

The first step to gaining control over your finances is knowing exactly how much money you have in your account at all times.

Budget

Write down all the money you bring in and take away essentials such as rent/mortgage, utility bills and food. If you have money left over, then you can plan what else you can spend. If you have nothing left over, look at ways you could cut costs.

Pay Off More Than The Minimum

If you are repaying a credit card, try to repay more than the minimum amount.

Highest Interest First

If you have multiple cards, try and repay the ones with the highest interest rate first.

Get Advice

If you’re struggling month after month, and see no sign of light at the end of the tunnel, contact Debt Assist today.

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Utility Switching? That’s so 2018

By | Financial Help

Utility Switching? That’s so 2018

By now, everybody knows that they should be switching energy providers annually in order to get themselves the best deals, however we often hear complaints about how the actual process of doing so is more hassle than it’s worth.

This is where a new style of switching companies, known as flippers, come in. The largest of these new companies is Look After My Bills, featured on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den, this is a free service (they get their money from commission from the energy suppliers), you give them your details and let them get on with it. They claim that they will only switch if you can save over £50, and also that although you may not be switched to the cheapest, they try to find the best companies, so you won’t be stuck with a company with poor customer care for a year.

This NOT an advert, unfortunately we won’t get any money if you use them, however I believe the system to be too good not to tell you about.

Alternatives include Flipper, Migrate and SwitchCraft – Have a look at them all and pick the one you think best suits your needs.

Look After My Bills
Flipper
Migrate
Switchcraft

Heavy Debt Increases Suicide Risk

By | Financial Help, News

Heavy Debt Increases Suicide Risk

New research has revealed that more than 100,000 people per year attempt suicide due to struggling with large debts.

One in 14 adults are currently struggling with large debts, this is according to research by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), Britain’s largest independent social research body. The report shows that intimidating letters sent by bailiffs, debt collectors and councils raise the risk of suicide of those already struggling with the worry of debt.

People struggling with debt – meaning those struggling with bills, credit agreements, or have been cut off by their energy suppliers – are more than three times more likely than the general population to have suicidal thoughts.

NatCen’s findings, based on its analysis of a huge NHS dataset called the adult psychiatric morbidity survey, also found that:

  • People with multiple debts are five times more likely to have tried to kill themselves than those with one debt.
  • Almost a quarter (23%) of those who made a suicide attempt last year were in problem debt.
  • The “double stigma” around debt and suicide means many of those who are struggling do not tell anyone how they are feeling or seek help.

“This is harrowing new evidence that far from tackling the burning injustice of mental ill health, the actions of this government are pouring petrol on the flames”, said Barbara Keeley, the shadow minister for mental health.

“The continual rise in poverty, insecure work and the crisis of low pay brought on by the decision of this callous government to pursue austerity relentlessly is seeing shockingly high numbers of people in desperate straits attempt to take their own lives.”

Debt and Stress

If you are worrying about debts, read our debt and stress page for help.

Universal Credit Children’s Christmas Crisis

By | Financial Help, News

Universal Credit Children’s Christmas Crisis

Ministers have been warned that more than 100,000 children could be exposed to financial hardship this Christmas, due to the struggling Universal Credit welfare programme.

This struggle is down to the standard 35-day delay in Universal Credit’s first payment, meaning that anyone applying for the welfare programme from the 20th of November and onwards, will not receive any kind of benefits until AFTER Christmas. Housing association Peabody Trust believe this to be in the region of 67,000 families, which means around 116,000 children! Areas transferring on to universal credit in the next few weeks include postcodes in north-west London, Derby, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Wakefield, Portsmouth and Milton Keynes.

Anya Martin, policy officer at Peabody, said: “People having to use their benefits to repay the government means that this hardship continues even when regular payments have kicked in.
“Reducing the waiting period to two weeks from the start of a claim would make a huge difference to thousands of vulnerable families across the country.”

A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “There’s no reason for people to be without money over Christmas because advance payments are widely available.
“Anyone applying for Universal Credit can get an advance of up to 100% upfront, payable on the same day if someone is in urgent need.”

However, these early payments simply leave claimants trapped in a circle of debt repayments. Around a third of all Universal Credit claimants have upto 40% deducted from their income to repay advances and debts. The Commons work and pensions committee chair Frank Field has called this arrangement a “nationalised form of debt” that was “fast becoming a main supply route to food banks”.

Along with other organisations, Debt Assist UK are calling on the government to reduce the five-week waiting time to two weeks, over the festive period.

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Never Repay Debts

By | Financial Help, News

Never Repay Debts

This isn’t a suggestion…Many households are struggling with their debts so much, that they believe they will never repay their debts.

This is according to a report from comparison site MoneySuperMarket. The report shows that 12% of people believe they will never repay their debts, and shockingly, 7% believe they won’t be able to have children as a result of being in debt.

Sally Francis-Miles, spokesperson at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Some debts are entered into as part of a financial plan, such as a mortgage, but when an emergency situation leaves them unable to pay, many feel left without a choice and turn to high-cost options such as payday loans or expensive credit cards.”

“Money worries can cause extreme stress, and leave people feeling alone and desperate but there are many advice services available to help, including debt-help charities and the Money Advice Service. Seeking help and support can make all the difference if you or someone close to you is struggling with their financial situation – there’s always a way out of a debt spiral.”

41% of the the people questioned had never sought help for their debts, which is shocking as it’s than ever to get help with your debts. If you are struggling with repayments on personal loans, household bills or credit cards, give our friendly advisers a call on 0800 029 3992 or fill in the form below and we’ll give you call back.

There is no fee for our advice, and there is absolutely no obligation to use any of the solutions we may suggest to you.

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