Avoid the debt spiral

PUBLISHED: 09:52 23 November 2006 | UPDATED: 13:36 04 May 2010

Avoid the debt spiral

Avoid the debt spiral

PERSONAL debt in Britain is increasing by £1 million every four minutes. In the UK we owe over £1,250 billion, and in just the past 12 months our debts increased by a staggering £109 billion. With the festive season looming, putting even more pressures on

PERSONAL debt in Britain is increasing by £1 million every four minutes. In the UK we owe over £1,250 billion, and in just the past 12 months our debts increased by a staggering £109 billion. With the festive season looming, putting even more pressures on the average budget, LESLEY INNES looks at what it is being done in East Cambridgeshire to help cash-strapped families find some Christmas cheer.

WITH Christmas just around the corner, families across East Cambridgeshire will be struggling to keep a lid on the

spending.

Children always want the latest toy or game and the sheer cost of Christmas puts a strain on the finances of even the most well-balanced budget.

In the past year, volunteers at Ely's Citizens Advice Bureau have helped people across the district cope with more than £3 million-worth of debt. The average was a staggering £19,600.

"We would prefer to help people before the situation becomes a real crisis with possible loss of the family home or bailiffs knocking at the door," said CAB manager, Beverley Howard.

"We are urging people not to get into debt over the Christmas period. Christmas puts a great strain on the family budget.

"There is an enormous pressure on everyone to spend a lot on presents and entertaining. However, the long-term effects and strain of debt on the family ultimately may not be worth it."

Citizens Advice Bureau staff have offered the

following tips on how to stay out of debt this Christmas:

# Be realistic about what you can afford.

# Work out how much you are going to spend on each person - and stick to it. Try shopping just with cash and not using your credit cards.

# Don't just run up an overdraft without talking to your bank. This will be much more expensive than if you arrange it beforehand.

# If you do need to use credit, shop around for the lowest rate.

# If you do get into difficulties, get advice as soon as you can from your local CAB.

Research among GPs and mental health experts has shown that money worries are a significant cause of anxiety and stress.

A quarter of those in debt in the UK are receiving treatment for stress, depression and anxiety from their doctors.

With the average house price increasing by almost £50 a day and the combined value of transactions made on credit and debit cards reaching £470

billion last year, Christmas can only add to the

burden for many.

For those people already facing money worries the CAB is launching a new Money Advice Session every Tuesday starting this week between 1.30pm and 3.30pm at its offices at 70 Market Street.

Sarah and Lindsay, the money advisers, will be on-hand for clients to drop in without an appointment for advice on budgeting, negotiating with creditors or advising on other remedies to deal with debts.

INFO: For details or advice on other issues the CAB has a new advice line number - 0845 1306442 - which is open to people in East Cambridgeshire between Monday and Thursday from 9.15am to 1.30pm.

Growing Problem

# 282 credit or debit card transactions take place every second in the UK.

# The UK is responsible for one third of all unsecured debt in western Europe.

# One person is falling victim to insolvency every minute of every working day.

# Around 280,000 mortgages are one month or more in arrears.

# More than eight million British workers – 21 per cent – don’t have pension provision.

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