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January 31st busiest day for debt advice



Today, the last day of January, is usually the busiest day of the year for people seeking help with their debts, according to Citizens Advice Westminster.

Analysis of national data from the past 12 months reveals that on 31 January 2018 the Citizens Advice network helped 2,800 people face to face, on the phone or via webchat with their debt and money advice problems.

This means one person sought help from a Citizens Advice local office every 10 seconds.

People also accessed debt advice on the national Citizens Advice website 17,000 times on January 31, making it the busiest day for online help as well.

Last year Citizens Advice Westminster secured £160,000 assisting clients who sought help for a wide variety of debt concerns, including credit cards, rent arrears, council tax arrears, energy and water arrears.

Shirley Springer, Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Advice Westminster said:

“Debt is an extremely complex issue. For the people we help, January is often a time when they reach a point where they need get support to deal with their finances.

“While we help people with credit card bills, those in debt are far more likely to be behind on essential household bills, such as council tax and rent.

“With these arrears come tough penalties for non-payment and uncompromising collection practices such as using bailiffs, who regularly break rules like taking tools needed for work.

“The knock-on effects for people who are struggling is further stress, anxiety and mental health problems.

“The government must address the long-standing issue of rule-breaking bailiffs and set up an independent regulator.

“This month we have also launched our new debt and money advice specialist service – Wiser Money Project- to increase our debt and money advice support for residents across Westminster.”

Wiser Money Project

To help people get on top of their debts, Citizens Advice Westminster is also sharing its six top tips to help people get their finances in order.

1. Work out how much you owe – Make a list of who you owe money to and add up how much you need to pay each month. If you don’t have your most recent statements, contact your creditor to find out what you owe.

2. Prioritise your debts – Your rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are called priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. These should always be paid first. Separate these and work out how much you owe.

3. Work out how much you can pay – Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and housing, and taking away these from your income. Any money you have spare can be put towards your debts. Citizens Advice budgeting tool can help.
4. Paying urgent debts You might have to contact priority creditors quickly in urgent situations, such as if you are about to be evicted. Tell them you’re seeking debt advice so you can find a way forward. You could try to pay them something if you can afford to.
5. Paying non-urgent debts – If you have any money left after paying priority debts, consider getting a free debt-management plan. You’ll make one monthly payment to the plan provider, who will handle paying your creditors. Or contact your creditors and offer them what you can afford to pay.
6. If you can’t pay your debts – If you’ve got little or no money spare to pay your priority debts seek advice from us straight away.

For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Westminster on 0300 330 1191.



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