Debts to household bills outnumber consumer credit debts

reported to Citizens Advice

Regular readers of our news column will know that at the beginning of the month we were expecting more than 400 people in Wiltshire to seek our advice on financial matters in January, 2017.

Well, thanks to the hard work of our frontline advisers, we helped almost 500 people with over 1,000 debt and money issues

For some people, like many of us, they were reviewing their finances at the beginning of the year and wanted advice about their options and guidance about what they could do, for example with their pension pot or to find out if they could get a better deal on their utility supplies.

For others, their situation was more complex and more urgent. The three biggest debt problems we helped people with this January were all related to household bills - Council Tax arrears, rent arrears and water debts.     

Earlier this week the the national Citizens Advice charity responded to the Bank of England’s latest money and credit statistics saying that while rising consumer borrowing could lead to serious debt problems further down the line - it is household bills putting the pressure on people’s finances now.  

According to the Bank’s December 2016 figures, unsecured consumer credit is at its highest level since the financial crash and recession of 2008.

 Below, how debt enquiries to Citizens Advice have changed over recent years:

household debt
Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, said:

“Rising consumer borrowing could spell debt problems for the future - but it is household bills that are a pressing issue for many families now.

“The latest figures from the Bank of England on consumer borrowing are an important tool in assessing people’s confidence in markets and can signal debt problems further down the line.  While borrowing money might be manageable now - a change in circumstance could make it more difficult to keep up with repayments, so we encourage people to think about their ability to pay back when taking out credit.
“It is important to remember that consumer credit figures only look at borrowing so don’t offer the whole picture on people’s financial security. Between January to December 2016 we helped people with 435,000 household debt issues including rent, mortgage, fuel bills and council tax - 45% more than consumer credit debts - showing that it is essential bills which are pushing people into debt now.
“To help people manage their finances it is really important that there is free, independent and impartial advice available. Anyone worried about money or struggling to keep up with their finances can come to Citizens Advice for help.”

If you're worried about money, struggling to pay the bills, or would just like advice on your options, call us on 03444 111 444. Lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, or drop in to your local Citizens Advice

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