Tag Archives: debt

Citizens Advice brings cheer to Suffolk this Christmas

Citizens Advice charities have been supporting people in Suffolk this Christmas by helping to solve problems that are a burden to households. The charities helped 22,000 people last year, and say that Christmas can be a difficult time of year for vulnerable people.

This month, Citizens Advice helped a father who approached his local office when his primary school age daughter was placed into his care by social services.

The child’s mother was experiencing a mental health crisis and the child was removed from her care after involvement from the police.

The child was taken to her father immediately, without any of her belongings and with only the clothes she was wearing.

The local Citizens Advice arranged a food parcel for the family and applied for a grant from the local Lions Club so that the father could buy her clothes.

An Adviser arranged for the child to receive a Christmas present through a scheme run by the local Salvation Army and passed her thank you card to the Lions Club.

The local Citizens Advice is helping the father to claim the child benefit and associated benefits that he is entitled to so that he can provide care for his daughter.

Citizens Advice are also helping vulnerable people in Suffolk to heat their homes this winter, in partnership with Suffolk Community Foundation.

Citizens Advice Ipswich administers applications for the Surviving Winter Grant for the whole of Suffolk.

So far, over £20,000 donated by the generous people of Suffolk has been shared in the form of over 170 grants to older people across the County and that is only the beginning of the project. Surviving Winter partners are aiming to reach a target of £150,000 in donations to be awarded to around 800 households to help keep them warm over the winter.

As well as providing this much-needed extra funding, Citizens Advice across the county gives additional help with energy costs, benefits applications and money advice. This helps to keep people well in their homes.

In this year alone, Citizens Advice in Suffolk has dealt with £9m of debt, helping to stabilise the financial situation for families in 2018.

Helping to manage debt leads to people getting some control back in their lives, and allows them to budget for the everyday essentials as well as occasional extras like Christmas presents.

Nicky Willshere of Citizens Advice Ipswich said,

“People turn to us when their problems are difficult to solve, and this is even more important at Christmas, which can be a difficult time for many.”

“Volunteers are the backbone of our service. Last year, 425 volunteers gave their time at their local Citizens Advice in Suffolk to help people in need. Thanks to them, we helped 22,000 people.”

“We are grateful to all of those who enable us to help those in need, including volunteers, funders and charity partners.”

“We receive numerous thank you cards and small gifts from grateful clients at this time of year. Though that is not why we do it, it is great that our volunteers and staff are recognised for their hard work throughout the year.”

“One client put it better than I can – thank you to everyone for helping my family get through this difficult time – I would not have known where to go if you weren’t here. Until now I didn’t know how hard it could be.”

Press Release: £19 billion owed in everyday bills, as Citizens Advice reveals it helps 1 person every 3 minutes with bailiff issues

Citizens Advice is calling for better regulation of unaccountable bailiff firms as it reveals households have fallen behind on their essential bills, such as council tax and utilities, by an estimated £18.9 billion.

Last year, the charity helped one person every 3 minutes with bailiff issues. In 2014, the government introduced reforms which were meant to protect people from unfair practices. Yet since then, Citizens Advice has seen a 24% rise in bailiff problems.

In July, MPs on the Treasury Select Committee said government and local authorities were “worst in class” for debt collection, and that bailiff use can cause additional problems.

Falling behind on household bills typically has more severe consequences than missing consumer credit repayments, like overdrafts and personal loans. People can face having their essential services cut off, can be kicked out of their home due to rent arrears or even face prison if they get behind on their council tax. Citizens Advice is concerned that aggressive tactics are also having serious knock-on effects, leading to further debt and mental health problems.

In one example, Citizens Advice helped a retired couple who – for the first time in their lives – had fallen behind on some of their essential bills and owed £700 in council tax. The bailiffs who came to collect the debt were aggressive and demanded the full amount immediately, saying they were going to call the police if the couple couldn’t pay. The couple are now afraid to open their front door.

Citizens Advice says it has seen a significant increase in the proportion of debt issues it helps people with that are related to household bill debts since 2011. Since then, problems with these kinds of debts have overtaken the number of consumer credit issues that people are seeking the charity’s help with.

Its figures show the people it helps with household bill problems tend to be in a more precarious financial position than those with consumer credit debts. The charity says people with household bill debt were 37% more likely to be out of full-time employment and almost 1 in 3 people (34%) had a mental health problem.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

One person every 3 minutes come to us for help with bailiff issues. Families are living in fear of a visit from the bailiffs, and small missed bills can skyrocket through excessive enforcement fees.

Our evidence shows aggressive tactics by bailiffs cause huge distress and can even push people further into debt. Families are going without essentials like food or electricity to meet their payments.

The Ministry of Justice has already announced a call for evidence into aggressive collection practices by bailiffs. They must use this to take strong action and introduce an independent bailiff regulator to fix this broken system.

Figures from the charity show:

  • UK households owe £18.9 billion to essential service providers and government in arrears. This includes tax credit overpayments of almost £7.5 billion, £2.84 billion owed to local authorities in council tax arrears and £2.20 billion owed to water companies.
  • Household debt has now overtaken consumer credit as the key money problem people bring to Citizens Advice.
  • Last year we helped people with 690,000 household bill debt problems, compared to 350,000 consumer credit issues.

Citizens Advice is calling for:

  • The government to commit to measuring the levels of household debt. The government should collect and report annually on the level of debt to government and to essential service providers – in a similar way to the Bank of England’s monthly statistics on consumer and mortgage lending.
  • The bailiff industry to be independently regulated. The Ministry of Justice should use its announced ‘crackdown on rogue bailiffs’ and 3 year review of the 2014 Taking Control Regulations, to bring bailiffs and bailiff companies under an independent regulator.

People who are concerned about their finances can contact Citizens Advice for budgeting and debt advice.

Citizens Advice Ipswich expects 31st of January to be year’s busiest day for debt advice

The last day of January is expected to be the busiest day of the year for people seeking help with their debts, according to Citizens Advice Ipswich.

Analysis of national data from the past 12 months reveals that on 31 January 2017 Citizens Advice helped 2,800 people, 30 per cent above the daily average.

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

30 January was the most popular day for seeking advice online, with twice as many page views as average for the rest of the year.

Locally, Citizens Advice Ipswich is expecting around 100 people to seek advice on debt throughout the first month of the year.

Citizens Advice Ipswich provided assistance to people seeking help for a wide variety of debt concerns, including gas and electricity bills, rent and council tax arrears, and credit card debt and loans.

To help people kick off 2018 on a stronger financial footing, Citizens Advice Ipswich is sharing its six top tips to help people get their finances in order for the New Year.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Officer of Citizens Advice Ipswich, said:

“There is a surge in demand for our debt advice towards the second half of January.”

“Christmas in particular can take a heavy toll on people already struggling to make their money last and leave them with a debt burden in the New Year. But this needn’t become a crisis – problems can be taken care of if you seek advice early.”

“The New Year is a good time to get on top of your debts, cut your costs or budget better. Citizens Advice can help you review your situation so you can make decisions that improve your financial security.”

Citizens Advice Ipswich’s six top tips to sort out your debts:

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 may have several priority debts and can’t pay them all. Contact all your creditors to find out if you can negotiate on how much you pay, or when you pay them. Always pay first priority creditors who are taking action against you.

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 more information and help, look at https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/debt-and-money/help-with-debt/

Ipswich Citizens Advice is on board for Money Safety Week

Ipswich Citizens Advice welcomed the opportunity to join with partners Ipswich Borough Council, Eastern Savings and Loans credit union and the Coffee Caravan to promote Money Safety Week.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Officer at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“As things get tight for people, we know from our clients how easy it is to become a target for loan sharks and other illegal lenders. We have seen at first hand the misery people can suffer at the hands of loan sharks and know that unmanageable debt can cause worry and illness. We are here to offer free and confidential support and guidance for people with money troubles.”

“We have seen the need for advice on all sorts of issues grow in Ipswich and in response to this we have opened two outreach drop in clinics:”

Whitton Health Clinic on Meredith Road, Tuesdays 9.30 – 12.00
Hawthorn Surgery on Hawthorn Drive Thursdays 9.30 – 12.00

“We have also been building our Money Advice Team to skill us up to give advice and support for budgeting, income maximisation and debt remedies, including insolvencies such as bankruptcy, Debt Relief Orders and Individual Voluntary Arrangements.”

“Nicky continued: “Falling into debt can create a vicious circle of misery in people’s lives. Some of the people we help with debt problems have other difficulties in their lives and together these can lead to significant emotional and mental distress”.

Sometimes called the fourth emergency service, Citizens Advice know how crippling debt can be. Having got help from us, 4 out of 5 clients felt less stressed, just under half said their physical health had improved and 20% of clients had better relationships with others having sought advice.

If you have fallen victim to a Loan Shark, remember – you haven’t done anything illegal. Come and speak with one of our advisers, we’re here to help.

loan shark

Press Release: Unmanageable debt fuelling a vicious cycle of problems in people’s lives in Ipswich, says Ipswich Citizens Advice

People seeking help from Ipswich Citizens Advice with debt problems also face significant issues in other areas of their lives, the charity reports today.

Ipswich Citizens Advice helps 800 people with over 5,000 debt issues every year. Of this number, 77% have a problem in another area, such as 34% asked for help with benefits, 17% wanted advice on housing matters and 41% received budgeting and other financial services information.

At a national level, more than half of the 350,000 people Citizens Advice helps with a debt issue have a problem in at least one other area and nearly three quarters of debt clients say they felt anxious or stressed because of their debts.

Nationally Citizens Advice has today published a new study examining the link between excessive debt and wider issues in people’s lives called A Debt Effect? The report finds that high levels of unsecured debt – such as credit cards or personal loans – make people less likely to move house, apply for a new job or start a business.

The study also finds that people with high levels of debt are 24% more likely to experience poor mental health, and that those with mental health problems are twice as likely to be behind on their bills.

Ipswich Citizens Advice knows that resolving wider issues in people’s lives can help their mental wellbeing. The charity has an outreach at Hawthorn Drive Surgery, giving doctors an opportunity to prescribe advice on issues, such as large debts, that may be affecting their patients’ health.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive at Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Falling into debt can create a vicious circle of misery in people’s lives.

Some of the people we help with debt problems have other difficulties in their lives and together these can lead to significant emotional and mental distress.

Debt can feel like a huge burden in people’s lives, but Ipswich Citizens Advice is here to help lighten that load.

If you’re struggling with debts, getting advice can make a real difference, helping you assess your options and get reassurance and support.”

Job Opportunity – Trainee Money Adviser

Citizens Advice Ipswich

We are a dynamic and busy town centre bureau serving a diverse urban and rural community. We are seeking to appoint the following post:

Trainee Money Adviser

Contract: 18 Month Fixed Term Contract
(Subject to funding until October 2017)

Salary: £16,354 – £16,770 pro rata

Hours: 18.5 – 24 per week (Negotiable, over 3 or 4 days per week)

Closing Date: Thursday 7 April 2016

Interview Date: Friday 15 April 2016

Ipswich Citizens Advice is looking for a well organised Trainee Money Adviser/ Debt Caseworker to join our rapidly expanding Money Advice Team (MAT).

You will receive recognised training, support and supervision to enable you to work towards providing an in-depth debt casework service to our clients, face to face as well as by telephone.

The post holder will preferably have some knowledge or experience in the areas of either, money, debt, welfare, advice, law, housing, or benefits. You will be a good communicator who is methodical and enjoys problem solving. You should also be able to work comfortably and efficiently on a one to one basis, independently and as part of a team.

For application forms please contact: Jan Parcell – Senior Administrator
Tel: 01473 219770
Or contact via this website

For informal discussion please contact: Helen Bloomfield – MAT Manager
Tel: 01473 298631
Or contact via this website

Address: 19 Tower Street
Ipswich
IP1 3BE

Press Release ~ Ipswich Citizens Advice helped clients manage over £1.5 million debts in the first 6 months of this year

Over a £million of this was credit debt. Our research shows that this figure is so high because it is already hard to make ends meet.

Now in the run up to the Autumn Statement, it looks like households will be needing to further tighten their belts with proposed cuts to tax credits. The results of a Citizens Advice survey suggests that those not already in debt will be driven to borrowing or will not be able to find the necessary funds to pay essential bills.

£100 drop in monthly income can drive households into debt

One in three people would have to stop paying essential bills, borrow from family or would fall into debt to deal with a £100 drop in their monthly income, reveal new figures from Citizens Advice.

The ‘financial security’ study shows that a monthly loss of £100 is enough to undermine the stability of household finances. It also highlights that people would struggle to increase their income due to caring commitments, or their employer not being able to offer more hours or more pay. Those who believe they can increase their income say it could take up to a year to make this happen.

Four out of five (82 per cent) people with an income of between £15,999 and £29,999 said it would be difficult or very difficult to cope with this reduction, compared to almost half of those on an annual income of over £30,000 (47 per cent).

The findings come ahead of the Autumn Statement and Spending Review and as the Government considers changes to tax credits which, as the plans stand, would leave many affected households worse off by £100 a month.

Each year Citizens Advice helps with 1.5 million debt problems. In the last 18 months there has been a notable shift in the types of debt problems people are seeking the charity’s help with as more and more people struggle to pay bills and rent.

Of the third of people who said they would borrow money or fall into debt as a result of the loss of income:

  • Half would borrow money from family or friends
  • 45 per cent would skip or delay payments on essential bills
  • 41 per cent would use an overdraft
  • 31 per cent would use a credit or store card.

Reducing spending was a popular approach among the 500 respondents to the online survey with 77 per cent saying that they would make cut backs to absorb the change in their finances.

However, working extra hours or gaining a pay rise was less of an option for people, with just 1 in 4 (28 per cent) believing they would be able to do this.

Of those who said they couldn’t increase their income, one in four said caring commitments, for example childcare responsibilities or looking after a relative, meant they wouldn’t be able to increase their working hours.

While a quarter thought their employer couldn’t offer them higher pay or more hours.

Two in five people (43 per cent) felt that even if they were able to increase their income, it would take them months, with one quarter thinking they’d need more than a year.

Nicky Willshere, Chief Executive of Ipswich Citizens Advice said:

“Being £100 a month worse off can significantly affect people’s financial security.

“For too many people the only option to cope with a drop in income is to borrow money or go into debt on their essential bills. Childcare responsibilities can mean people are unable to take on any more work to fill the gaps, and where people are able to increase their income it can take up to a year to do so.

“People on tax credits are facing the prospect of a £100 drop in income. Ministers need to look carefully at their plans to change tax credits to ensure people aren’t driven into debt, have plenty of time to plan their finances and are given help to achieve a financially secure position.”

Data from Citizens Advice shows products like credit cards previously caused the most debt issues but it is now household bills which are at the heart of people’s financial troubles. Our advisers also report that clients tell them they are using credit cards and loans to help meet ongoing household costs. This is not sustainable in the long term.

There were 197,000 council tax debt problems reported to Citizens Advice between July 2014 and June 2015, making it the most common debt problem. There has also been an increase in rent arrears to private landlords.

The charity’s ‘Consumer Challenges’ published earlier this year found those on higher incomes tend to have a greater amount of debt. However it also reported that it is much more difficult for people on lower incomes to get themselves out of debt – meaning they often end up deeper in the red.

Notes to editors

1. More information, including figures regarding debt levels experienced by Ipswich Citizens Advice clients are available from Nelleke van Helfteren – deputymanager[at]ipswichcab.org.uk tel 01473 219772, mobile 07765 534443.

2. Between the 29 October and the 4 November 505 people answered an online survey about dealing with changes in income. The respondents came from across the income distribution and represented all types of households.

3. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.

4. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential, and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.

5. To find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales or to get advice online, visit citizensadvice.org.uk.

6. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.

7. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full 2013/2014 service statistics see our quarterly publication Advice trends.

Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.