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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.

Katie Price IVA

By | News

Katie Price IVA

The former glamour model known as Jordan, has had an IVA accepted to cover her £22,000 debts.

Katie Price has avoided bankruptcy after her creditors agreed to accept a proposal for an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) to repay her £22,000 debts. She will now be able to keep her house and other assets.

Although the terms of the IVA, and who the creditors actually were, the HMRC have confirmed that they were amongst them, a spokesman said, “This is a better result for her and her creditors.”

Although we don’t like to see anyone struggling with debt, we try to highlight the ‘celebrity’ cases, as it shows that you are not alone in this problem, people from all walks of life find themselves struggling with debt.

If you are worrying about debt, read our page on debt stress.

An individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) is a legal procedure for people in financial difficulties with unsecured debts. It is a legal agreement between you and your creditors to only pay what you can actually afford to pay off your debts.

The arrangement will stop any further interest and charges being added to your debts, and normally lasts 60 months (although occasionally 72). You will be legally required to pay the agreed monthly payment, and at the end of five years anything remaining (up to 80%!) will be legally written off.

Are You Struggling With Debts?

If, like Katie Price, you are struggling to repay your debts, contact our friendly advisers and see how they can help. They advice is free and there is no obligation to use any of the services we may suggest.

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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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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 3m 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.

Bailiffs Can Still Chase You For…

By | News

Bailiffs Can Still Chase You For…

In yesterday’s budget, the Chancellor introduced a series of new measures to help protect people in debt, and offering them much needed breathing space. However, there is still one problem…

The biggest cause of household debts in the UK currently, are energy bills and council tax, both of which are rising at record rates – and much faster than household income. At Debt Assist UK, we have already seen a rise in people looking for help with their energy bill debts, and these are only going to increase as the weather gets colder, and we have seen firsthand that these necessary bills are forcing people to payday loans – notoriously difficult to get out of if you are already struggling with money.

Whilst we approve of the government’s ‘breathing space’ rule, what they don’t mention, is that it won’t actually cover you for utility bill and council tax debts! Which means the can still come knocking, chasing these debts! They say that despite protections on debts, “individuals will still have ongoing household liabilities, such as monthly bills for gas and electricity and council tax, during their breathing space.” Which means that as you are trying to repay your other debts, these companies can still chase you for payment.

‘Breathing Space’ Won’t Save You From…

  • Secured debts
  • Rent
  • Insurance premiums
  • Taxes
  • Water and sewerage charges
  • Utility bills: Electricity, gas, landline phone services, and energy bills
  • Heating oil

How Do You Qualify For Breathing Space?

No matter how many bills you are behind on, and how much help you need, you won’t qualify for ‘breathing space’ unless you:

  • Actively seek and access debt advice
  • Agree to be assessed as being in problem debt by a debt adviser
  • And have not been in ‘breathing space’ in the previous 12 months

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?

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Breathing Space From Bailiffs

By | News

Breathing Space From Bailiffs

In a victory for common sense, Theresa May is set to introduce a so-called ‘breathing space’ for those struggling with debts.

This manifesto will offer a six-week breathing space for those people who are struggling with serious debts. During this six-week period you are able to organise your finances and put a plan of repayment together, without being chased for repayment or worry about bailiffs or creditors taking legal action against you.

May’s manifesto is considered a move for her to come good on her promises to help working families who are “just managing”. Following the snap election of 2016, she said that for an “ordinary working class family” life is “much harder than many people in Westminster realise”.

An HM treasury Spokesperson said: “We are committed to helping people overwhelmed by debt by giving them the time they need to seek advice and get their lives back on track.”

Win

With six-week breathing space, you will find yourself in a better position to without worrying about further interest and charges.

Win

The creditors are more likely to be repaid their money, if you have time to better organise your finances and arrange a repayment scheme.

Win

The country as a whole will benefit as there are many problems caused as a result of debt – not least mental problems for the individual concerned.

Northern Rail Chaos Compensation

By | News

Northern Rail Chaos Compensation

A scheme to compensate customers affected by this year’s rail chaos in northern England has been announced. The scheme allows passengers to claim beyond the normal Delay Repay scheme. The amount of money you may able to reclaim varies according to how much the route travelled was affected.

Passengers must have evidence of travelling on at least 12 days in a 28-day window for the most disrupted routes, and three days in a seven-day window for the second tier of routes.

The scheme was originally limited to season ticket holders, but it has been brokered with Transport for the North to include anyone who travelled during this period (you need proof) and covers disruption before and after timetables were changed on May 20.

If you believe you have a cause for compensation, visit the rail company’s website for more information. Claims can be submitted from October 9 2018 for eight weeks.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “We have long made the case that regular passengers – such as part-time workers – affected by timetable disruption deserve compensation.

“Widening compensation to non-season ticket holders who travel regularly is a welcome step in rebuilding passengers’ trust.

“It’s now important that train companies actively encourage passengers to claim and make it both quick and easy to do so.”

Katie Hopkins Files For An IVA

By | News

Katie Hopkins Files For An IVA

Controversial figure, Katie Hopkins, has taken out an IVA to manage her debts, after losing a six-figure libel case. She applied for the IVA in May, as a way to avoid entering bankruptcy, and her application was agreed following a meeting of her creditors.

Ms. Hopkins seems to be struggling for money recently, after losing a libel case to food writer Jack Monroe, her lucrative Mail Online work dried up late last year, shortly following losing her job at LBC radio. She spent £1,000,000 on a luxury mansion earlier this year, quickly selling it at a loss after just three weeks.

Ironically, Katie Hopkins shared her (obviously idiotic) opinion regarding people in debt, stating: ‘The only thing people in debt have in common other than bad money management, is an ability to blame anyone but themselves. #debtdebate’

IVA - Individual Voluntary Arrangement

Hopefully, her current situation will help her realise that anyone can find themselves in debt or struggling with money, through no fault of their own.

Jack Monroe revealed that Katie has now paid the £24,000 in damages she was told to hand over after a judge ruled she’d caused “serious harm” to Jack’s reputation with a tweet she posted in May 2015.

She had written: “@MsJackMonroe scrawled on any memorials recently? Vandalised the memory of those who fought for your freedom. Grandma got any more medals?”

Hopkins’ tweet, Jack said, implied she had either vandalised a war memorial or “condoned or approved” of the criminal damage to the memorial – something that was clearly untrue as Katie had confused Jack with another campaigner.

Jack asked Hopkins to apologise on Twitter, but she refused – resulting in Jack consulting a legal team and filing a complaint of defamation against her.

The court case ended in March 2017 with a jubilant Jack – and a bill of £107,000 in costs that Hopkins was instructed to pay within 28 days.

What is an IVA?

An IVA (individual voluntary arrangement) is a legal procedure for people in financial difficulties with unsecured debts. It is a legal agreement between you and your creditors to only pay what you can actually afford to pay off your debts. The arrangement will stop any further interest and charges being added to your debts, and normally lasts 60 months (although occasionally 72). You will be legally required to pay the agreed monthly payment, and at the end of five years anything remaining (up to 80%!) will be legally written off.