Many People Becoming Financially Stretched

By: Tom_dawson
Those living in East Anglia could be set to face record financial difficulties.

Such is the assertion of the Norwich and district branch of Citizens Advice, which reports that the numbers of people it is currently advising on money matters is up by some 65 per cent in comparison to the same time last year. However, Andy Cobb, manager of the advisory organisation's Debtline service, suggested that even more consumers in the area may come under pressure to meet the various demands on their spending such as loans, store cards, household bills and mortgages. He told the Eastern Daily Press: "We are expecting 2008 to be a pretty grim year. We anticipate it to be the worst year on record." Findings from the institution also show that seven per cent of those in Norfolk seeking help with their money management owe more than 100,000 pounds via credit cards and unsecured loans.

It was also suggested that an increase in property repossessions, estimated to rise by 50 per cent from last year to 45,000, in addition to credit card firms hiking interest rates and other charges attached to their products, will see more people struggle with their money over the coming months. "We also have people coming off fixed-rate or low-start mortgages," Mr Cobb added. "The percentage of people's income now going on mortgage interest has already gone up and is now at almost 20 per cent. Not long ago it was 15 per cent. Many people are really becoming stretched."

Meanwhile, the Norwich outlet of Citizens Advice has seen its specialist debt service handle about 70 new enquiries per month, with "many thousands" looking for guidance from branches throughout Norfolk. In addition, figures reveal that the typical person seeking help owes more than 30,000 pounds, although for some people this level rises to 200,000 pounds. Currently, people owe money to an average of 11 different creditors - whether via loans, plastic cards or otherwise - in comparison to five in research carried out ten years ago.

Mr Cobb advised those people who believe they are developing debt problems to seek out advice as soon as possible. Although he suggested that "making the call is the hardest thing", upon doing so, consumers will have taken the all-important first step in getting back into a manageable financial position.

The warning comes ahead of a Debt Action conference which is due to take place in Norfolk on February 1st. Led by Norwich & District Citizens Advice, Norwich Consolidated Charities and Norfolk Consumer Support Network, the one-day event aims to identify ways in which the financial capability of people in the area can be improved. The increasing amount of monetary guidance may well help consumers to manage various demands on their spending and seek out cheap loans more effectively.

Following getting financial advice, those looking to get back on their financial feet may find that applying for a debt consolidation loan or switching credit cards, loans and other borrowing products to more competitive offers may be useful ways in which to get out of the red. James Falla, managing director of Thomas Charles, recently commented that people worried about their ability to manage their finances should take the time to consider the various options available to them and identify any areas in which they may be able to reduce their spending to put more money into repaying loans and other types of credit.
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