do not Panic Message to People Worried About Debt

By: Abbi Rouse

According to an industry expert, the number of people looking for help with their finances will increase in the first two months of 2008.

According to Heather Choudhary, a specialist debt adviser for the Bradford branch of Citizens Advice, the weeks following the festive period often see a rise in the number of people concerned about the various constraints on their money management. The representative went on to say that people should now face up to their debt, after funding Christmas with their credit cards.

She told the Telegraph & Argus: "The first wave of people contacting us about debt is towards the end of January and February, when the credit card bills start coming through."

Meanwhile, figures reveal that 879 people were declared bankrupt at Bradford county court over the course of last year, up from the 843 recorded in 2006. In 2005, however, such consumers numbered just 671. Ms Choudary then claimed that in 2006 people who had serious debt problems owed somewhere between 20,000 pounds and 25,000 pounds. This year however, people seeking advice have debts up to 45,000 pounds, claimed the debts advisory service.

Such figures suggest that demands for payment on utility bills, personal loans, credit and store cards, groceries and other expenses are putting an increasing amount of strain on homeowners.

For those who are concerned about their ability to meet various demands on their finances, Ms Choudhary stated that "the first piece of advice we give is for people not to panic and not to bury their heads in the sand". She claimed that there is a sufficient amount of monetary advice that people who may be worried about being able to make payments on loans and credit cards can access for free.

The Citizens Advice worker added: "Debt is never just about owing money, it's connected to bereavement, employment or relationship break-ups. When people are in debt they feel full of shame and out of control. People need to be reassured that when they come to the bureau they aren't going to be judged."

Matt Barlow, chief executive of Christians Against Poverty, added: "Christmas is undoubtedly a time of overspending for many people across the UK and this statistic supports the testimony of many clients we have helped over the past." He also said the first thing those who find that they are now in financial difficulties following the festive season "is not to panic".

Upon seeking out money management advice, Britons who are looking to get their finances back on track and get into the red as soon as possible may wish to consider applying for a debt consolidation loan. This type of loan could be particularly useful for those struggling with living costs. In research conducted by Sainsbury's Finance last year, day-to-day expenses were revealed to have increased by 4.2 per cent in the week between October and November.

For such consumers, debt consolidation may be a useful in merging numerous financial constraints into a single low-rate repayment.

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