Simon Read: The recession is over, but the debt depression is not

Patricia Stoute had only been married for a year when her money worries got too much for her. She climbed to the top of the Carfax Tower in the centre of Oxford one sunny day last June and leapt to her death. She just couldn't cope any longer with the weight of worrying about the £25,000 she had built up on 14 credit cards, her inquest in January was told.

It would be easy to use Ms Stoute's tragic tale as a stick to beat irresponsible credit card companies with, but there's no evidence to suggest that lenders had forced her to borrow beyond her means. Instead it seems that her tragedy stems back to the death of her first husband in 2007 from cancer. By the time that she remarried in 2008 it seems that she was already on the downward debt cycle which led to her demise, with grief a likely factor in her growing financial problems.

Her new husband knew nothing about her debts but, after the inquest last month, urged other people with money worries to open up to their families. Malcolm Hurlston, chairman of debt charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, agrees. "Debt is an emotive issue and people often feel a lot of shame and embarrassment about it," he says. "Don't let this stop you from seeking advice as the sooner you seek help the more can be done to deal with your debts."

The problem for many people, like Ms Stoute, is that they feel they've let friends and family down. In reality, hopefully, those close to victims will rally round and won't be judgmental. And help and understanding can clearly make the difference between life and death in many cases. It's not surprising that the problem of depression and stress brought on by money worries has increased during the recent recession.

But a slight upturn in the nation's fortunes is not going to help the millions still stuck in the financial mire. Of the 40 million adults suffering from stress and anxiety in a Mintel survey published this week, two-fifths of them say that money is at the root of their problem. The CCCS says it is concerned about the link between debt and depression in the wake of the recession and points to a recent Aviva study which showed rising employee stress levels and an increase in long-term absence rates.

"CCCS has become increasingly aware of the emotional toll that the recession is having on people. This in turn becomes a vicious circle as the more depressed a person becomes as a result of their money worries, the harder it is for them to deal with them," says Hurlston.

"It is a complex problem that has implications for financial institutions, health organisations, advice bodies as well as employers, who in turn have a responsibility to develop their understanding of the issue."

In recognition of the growing problem, the NHS last month set up a new free Stressline for people worried about job insecurity, redundancy, debt or financial problems. Anyone calling the NHS Stressline on 0300 123 2000 will be put through to advisers who will listen and offer practical advice, such as putting callers in touch with other people who can help such as debt, housing, employment advisers, and counselling and talking therapy services.

But it's also a problem that any one of us can help solve by recognising the signs of stress in friends and family and helping them to face up to and cope with their worries. People losing control of their finances often become more secretive about their money situation, for instance. The stress of trying to cope on their own may lead them to drink more or become short-tempered.

Encouraging friends or family to talk about debt problems could help them avoid Ms Stoute's fate. Helping them to get free professional help is also a good idea. Citizens Advice Bureaux have debt experts on hand or you can call the Consumer Credit Counselling Service on 0800 138 1111.

Savers hit by rate cap

The Bank of England's decision to hold interest rates at 0.5 per cent on Thursday was bad news, according to David Black, banking specialist at Defaqto. "It is no surprise that the Bank base rate is unchanged for the 11th month in a row but it is seriously bad news for Britain's hard-pressed savers and particularly for those on modest incomes who rely on interest from savings to boost their means," says Black.

The average interest rate for a £1,000 balance in an instant- or easy-access account is currently just 0.88 per cent, which is well below the inflation rate. Some accounts pay as little as 0.01 per cent while the Coventry's Building Society's easy-access 1st Class Postal pays 3.15 per cent gross AER on balances of £1,000 or more.

"There are things that savers can do to boost their savings rates," says Black. "It has been apparent for some time that inertia and loyalty does not pay in the current savings market. A proactive approach by moving variable-rate savings accounts to take advantage of things like introductory bonuses from those banks and building societies appearing in the best-buy tables would boost the returns for many."

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Property
pets
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Sport
football
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
News
news
News
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
news
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living