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Financial Help

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.


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.


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

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.


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.


Household Debt Soars As Energy Bills Rise

By | Financial Help, News

Household Debt Soars As Energy Bills Rise

The energy switching service uSwitch has found that the UK’s average household energy debts have risen by a massive 24% over the past year. Around 3 million households owe a total of £400m to their energy supplier, this is despite the summer heatwave and warmer than usual autumn.

This year, 32 energy suppliers have announced 55 separate prince increases; according to uSwitch this has added £900m to household energy bills!

Rik Smith, energy expert at uSwitch, said that suppliers’ costs had risen “significantly and sharply this year,” resulting in 2018 being “an unprecedented year of price increases” for consumers, many of whom will have seen their supplier raise prices more than once.

“Households across the country, whether in credit or debt, should check whether they could pay less for their gas and electricity,” he said. “In just 10 minutes, people could reduce their energy bills by up to £482 a year — much more than the government’s planned energy price cap can deliver.”

Struggling To Pay Your Energy Bills?

If you find yourself struggling to pay your energy bills contact our trained advisers for no cost, no obligation help and advice.


50% of UK Adults Financially Vulnerable

By | Financial Help, News

50% of UK Adults Financially Vulnerable

Half of the UK population are ‘financially vulnerable’, according to a new survey by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), with one-in-six people unable to cope if there was to be a £50 monthly increase in their bills.

The FCA’s largest ever survey, found that 4.1 million people are already in serious financial difficulty, falling behind with their bills and credit card payments; with 25-34-year-olds being the most indebted.

The findings include:

  • 50% of adults (25.6 million people) “display one or more characteristics that signal their potential vulnerability”.
  • Just under 8 million are over-indebted.
  • 4.5 million adults have been turned down for a financial product in the last two years.
  • One in six (17%) would struggle if their monthly mortgage or rent increased by less than £50.
  • 40% of the population have confidence in the UK financial services industry.
  • About 12 million adults have received an unsolicited approach that may be a scam, and 100,000 have lost money.

The FCA defines over-indebted as having one or both of the following characteristics:

  • Keeping up with domestic bills and credit commitments is a heavy burden.
  • Payment for any credit commitments and/or any domestic bills have been missed in any three months or more of the last six.

With many in the City predicting an interest rate hike towards the end of the year, this leaves us worrying how people are going to cope. Especially as it comes at a time when householders are already struggling, as inflation outpaces pay increases.

Christopher Woolard, the FCA strategy and competition director, said: “We have talked a lot in the last couple of years about the question of financial vulnerability. This survey is the first comprehensive snapshot of the the size and scale of the issue.

“At any one point in time, 50% of the population have one or more characteristics of vulnerability. But that does not mean they will definitely suffer harm. The number who experience harm will be much lower.”

The survey, the largest tracking survey on consumers and finance in the UK, threw up a number of idiosyncracies. For example, those people who did not go to university are financially happier than those who did.

“People with no formal qualifications are more satisfied with their financial situation on average than people with qualifications. For example, 31% of those with no qualifications are highly satisfied, compared with 23% of those with a graduate or postgraduate degree,” said the report.

Debt Help & Advice

If you have found yourself struggling to pay your bills, then talk to our trained advisers today. There is no cost for our help and advice, and there is absolutely no obligation to use any of the solutions we may suggest. So what have you go to lose?


Five Signs That You’re Nearing The Debt Trap

By | Financial Help

Five Signs That You’re Nearing The Debt Trap

If you recognise one, or even more, of these signs, then you need to reevaluate your financial situation immediately.

Your Income Goes on Repaying Loans

Everyone looks forward to payday, but if all of your income goes on repaying previous loans, then you need to be wary. The rule-of-thumb is you should not be using more than 30% of you monthly income on repaying previous debts, obviously this can vary depending upon your own particular set of circumstances, but if you are regularly paying more than half of your income on debts, you should reevaluate your budget.

You Are Borrowing To Fund Essentials

If you find yourself borrowing money to fund the essentials; utility bills, mortgage, etc. Then you need to seriously rethink your spending habits. Everybody has bad months, but if this is a regular occurrence, then you simply cannot afford to live. Contact our trained advisers immediately.

You Are Borrowing To Repay Loans

One of the worst/biggest causes for concern is if you find yourself taking out a loan to pay off other loans. In the right situation a consolidation loan can be great, but you really need to pick the correct one for you, and never think about short-term loans i.e. payday loans, to repay another debt. You are simply making your final total greater with each loan, and if you are struggling to repay the first, it’s only going to be more difficult for further loans.

You Are Unable To Repay Credit Card Bills

As credit cards are often one of the most costly loans available, if you find yourself simply paying the minimum repayment or, worse, can’t repay it at all, it is time to seriously look at your finances.

You Are Unable To Get Further Loans

As banks check your credit record before offering you a loan, if you are refused a loan then it’s quite a good sign that you are in or nearing the debt trap. This may then lead you on to short-term loans and less-reputable lenders, meaning much higher fees and interest.

Do You Recognise These Signs?

If you are ‘nearing’ rather than fully ‘in’ the debt trap, then you should consider taking to one of our advisers and see what we can do.

If you are indeed ‘in’ the debt trap then contact us immediately. There is no fee for our advice, and no obligation to use any of the solution we may suggest, but if you do nothing about it today, your situation is only going to get worse.


Martin Lewis Money Show

By | Financial Help, News

Martin Lewis Money Show

Money Saving Expert’, Martin Lewis, is hosting his live show in Liverpool in September, and is looking for your questions!

On Tuesday September 25th at St George’s Hall in Liverpool,Martin Lewis is answering your questions LIVE.

  • Concerned about energy prices?
  • Worried about bills at Christmas?
  • Need to know how to switch and save?

Your Money Questions Answered

To apply to be on the show email your details and question to (Last date for application is 23.59 on Monday 24th September 2018).

Martin Lewis Money Show

Appear on the Show

If you just want to be in the audience, tickets are completely free and available from the Applause Store.

Debt Questions

In the meantime, if you have any questions about debt, why wait until September? Talk to one of our trained advisers today!

There is no charge for our help and advice, and absolutely no obligation to use any of the services we may suggest to you. So what have you got to lose? Just answer a few simple questions and we’ll call you back.


Wonga ‘Collapse’

By | Financial Help, News

The well-known payday loan company, Wonga, is apparently on the brink of collapse according to reports.

Due to the large amount of compensation claims for misselling, Wonga’s shareholders had to invest £10 million to keep the company afloat. However, it is rumoured that the news of this simply encouraged claims management companies to claim compensation for misselling payday loans to their clients; the complaints being that Wonga targeted vulnerable customers and charged exorbitant interest on their short-term loans.

A spokesperson from Wonga stated. “The Wonga board continues to assess all options regarding the future of the group.”

I Have A Wonga Loan. What Does This Mean?

Wonga are currently not in administration, and therefore you should continue to repay them as you normally would. However, if you are struggling to meet repayments, you should contact our trained advisers who can help you with your financial situation.

Do not simply stop paying, Wonga are still up and running, and if you miss repayment you will be charged their missed payment fee of £15.

What If They Go Into Administration?

If Wonga should enter into administration, its administrators will almost definitely sell on your loan to another company, in order to try and make as much money as they possibly can to repay their creditors. In short, you’ll still have to pay, but it will be to another company.

What About Wonga Compensation Claims?

If you are in the process of making a claim against Wonga, then your claim will be processed as usual, however if you they do enter into administration, your claim be added to the list of creditors to be repaid. If Wonga does into administration, you will no longer be able to make new claims of misselling against Wonga.

If you have taken out a payday loan with Wonga (or any other payday loan company) and you are struggling to repay it, then contact us now, and you could possibly write off up to 80% of your unsecured debts.

There is no fee for our advice, and there is absolutely no obligation for you to use any of the solutions we may suggest to you. So what have you got to lose? Simply fill in the form below and we’ll call you back.