If they don't get help, debtors face 30 years of financial hell

There are many people in dangerous debt who don’t seek advice

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The Independent Online

One of the most worrying aspects of debt is that it’s a problem that doesn’t disappear quickly. Without help, hard-up people can struggle to cope with their debts for an average 30 years, a shock new report from a debt counselling charity reveals.

Christians Against Poverty examined evidence from the past year to discover that the average debt and average income per household of the people it helped were almost the same at just over £13,000.

But those who do reach out for help can avoid 30 years of hell. One solution for those facing repaying their debts for more than five years can be insolvency or a debt relief order. Others can get on top of their debts with the right budgeting and money management advice.

But there are extreme situations where the balance of income to debt is too tight, reckons Mark Cowley, the charity’s insolvency advice manager. “Last year 160 clients would have been paying off their debts for more than 100 years had we not given them the opportunity to clear the debt, mostly through debt relief orders.”

In one shocking case a woman who earned just enough to cover rent, food and utility bills was left with a disposable income of just 1p a month – leaving her debt problems spiralling out of control.

There are many people in dangerous debt who don’t seek help. That can be because of pride or embarrassment; some think they may have failed because they’ve got into debt difficulties, while others believe they need to sort it out for themselves.

Both are wrong. Debt charities are there to help and not judge. Debt can be totally debilitating but talking about it can be the first step towards dealing with it, no matter how desperate your situation seems. “We love tackling the seemingly impossible,” says Mark Cowley. “It gives us a real kick to be able to take away a burden like that from someone.”

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with debt, do seek help. There is plenty of free advice out there. Start with capuk.org or search for debt charities online.

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