Demand for debt help rockets
We've never been so busy, with thousands looking for debt help. So what sort of people are looking for advice, and what sort of debts are they struggling with?
At StepChange Debt Charity we’re currently experiencing our busiest time ever. It could be due to the recession, the fact that we’re advertising for the first time or the simple fact that it’s the start of the year.
Nobody wants to worry about their debts over Christmas and people often put off getting help over the festive period. However, we know from experience that when January comes we see demand for debt help go into rapid overdrive.
Batten down the hatches
For the past few years the third week in January has been our busiest time. This year was no different, and we’ve increased our profile by running an advertising campaign so that we can help more people with problem debt.
As our new infographic shows 5,863 people contacted us for debt help and support in the third week of January alone. This is a staggering number of people seeking debt help, both on the phones and online, in one week.
What do we know about these people, apart from the fact that they need debt help? Well, we could say that the typical person who contacted us that week was a woman in her early 20s who has been made redundant and as a result has problems with her credit card repayments.
The low down on debt demographics
Of course not many people who contact us actually fit that description. So let’s broaden it out…
- The number of people we advised in this single week was up 21% from the same week in 2011. Unemployment or redundancy has consistently been the biggest reason given for debt problems.
- Women have been more likely to seek debt help over the last few years and this trend has continued this year, with women representing 55.1% of the people who contacted us.
- People of all ages contact us, but during our busiest week the biggest percentage of people seeking help fell into the 40-59 age bracket. Also, the percentage of under 25s needing help on our busiest week was on the rise.
- Credit cards are still the biggest debt that people who contacted us have, but year on year we’re seeing a rise in both payday loan debt and catalogue debt. Problem payday loans have risen over 300%.
- The number of people asking for free debt advice in the north west has risen 52% since 2011. This is a massive jump year on year.
A busy week, but a drop in the ocean
Helping 5,863 people in a week is well within our capacity; indeed we expect to help around 420,000 people this year in total. However the numbers don’t bode well in terms of the larger societal problem, especially with the changes in benefits likely to hit home in the spring and summer.
If you’re worried about your financial situation it’s always best to seek advice as early as possible, you can do this on our free helpline our online using our anonymous and free debt advice tool Debt Remedy.