Get involved! Send photos, video, news & views. Text SWINDON NEWS to 80360 or email us
Agencies prepare to advise Swindon families on Christmas debt
DEBT is set to cast a shadow over many lives in Swindon this week as figures show millions of people across the country have racked up bills to pay for Christmas.
Support services expect a busy start to the new year, with Monday being dubbed D-Day – or debt day – to mark the first credit card bills arriving.
A national survey found that 46 per cent of people used credit cards, overdrafts, store cards or payday loans to pay for Christmas.
The research, carried out by consumer group Which?, found average borrowings were £301 but six per cent took between £500 and £1,000 and two per cent borrowed more than £1,000.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “Most of us like to splash out on family and friends at this time of year, so the news that millions of people have drastically cut back on Christmas spending or taken out loans to cover Christmas costs shows just how squeezed household budgets are right now.
“It also shows how far we are from a consumer spending-led economic recovery.”
Swindon Advice Point, in Park South, will re-open for people with debt issues after the Christmas break.
Volunteer Kareen Boyd said: “We will be open from next week to give out advice to anyone about dealing with debt.
“In common with other agencies, we will be ready and available to help with anyone’s problems.”
Swindon Citizens Advice Bureau personnel are also readying themselves for a post-Christmas surge.
Debt case worker Alison Palmer said: “Some people have a feeling of being overwhelmed. They’ve got themselves into a state and they can’t see a way out, but there’s always a way out of it. The sooner you come for advice, the better.”
Swindon Council has also published debt advice on its website, including how to set up a debt management plan with help from a national scheme.
Monday was predicted to be D-day for hundreds of thousands of families by the Debt Advice Foundation, a national charity.
Media manager Linda Isted: “Every year, debt advisers see a clear pattern, as people go into denial before Christmas. They close their eyes to their debts, any budget goes out of the window and they decide not to think about their finances until the New Year.”
Information about debt problems can be found at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s online advice guide, www.adviceguide.org.uk. The Swindon branch can be contacted on 08444 994114.
Anyone who could benefit from Advice Point’s help can contact it at 70 Cavendish Square.
People can also call the service on 01793 487934 or email email@example.com Information is also available from Swindon Council online at www.swindon.gov.uk