Saturday, 2 June 2012

Debt - a Four Letter Word

When I was approached recently regarding linking up with the Consumer Credit Counselling Service, the UK's leading debt charity, I knew it was something I wanted to write about.  I don't talk about my work on here, but I'm a debt & benefit advisor for a major children's charity.  Yes, you've heard of us, even if you've been living in a cave.  I don't talk about work because, apart from the fact that I try to keep home & work separate, it's important to maintain my clients' confidentiality.

But when CCCS got in touch, and wanted bloggers to help raise awareness of the work they do, and how debt affects families, I thought hard about how I could do this.  I tried to write a "day in the life" type post, but it's really hard to fictionalise, and I wouldn't want people to think they could identify someone.  But instead, I want to tell you a little about the kind of people I work with.

  • I work mostly with families with children, because I work for a children's charity.  I also work with young people who have experienced homelessness, or are care leavers. Often they've got themselves into debt because they haven't got the family support networks to fall back on, but want the same choices as everyone else.
  • Many of my clients are in relationships. Some are lone parents, but by no means the majority.
  • Many of my clients are working.  Often for long hours and low pay, with little stability, which can be what puts them at risk of falling behind with payments.
We're in a hotbed for what MP Stella Creasy called "legal loan sharks", and many of my clients have debts to coin-op tv lenders, high-street hire-purchase companies, doorstep lenders, and payday loan companies, all with extortionate rates of interest.  They can quickly fall into a spiral of debt, as the repayments fast outstrip the loan amount, with no clear repayment date in sight.  (I am not linking to examples of any of the above types of lenders. They do not deserve the benefit of my traffic, and in no way do I encourage you to use them.)

Where clients have just a few debts and they ask me to do so, I negotiate with them and the creditors directly, to establish a repayment plan.  But in many cases, the debts are too large, across too many creditors, and in those cases, I refer clients to a Debt Management agency.  There's a lot of companies that offer this service, you'll see them advertise on tv.  But those companies make a profit out of the debt, which isn't really the point.  There are charities, of which CCCS is one, who offer this service for free.  Depending on the clients' preference, we choose which charity they want to be referred to, and I act as a liaison, introducing clients to charities, making sure everything is going OK, and that the clients are happy with the situation, are keeping within their agreed budget, and making the payments that are then distributed to their creditors.

Really, I wanted to write this post to make my readers aware that there is help available.  And that help can come in at any stage, but the earlier you start, the easier it is to get debts back under control.  Debt can happen to anyone, and no-one will judge you for asking for help.  If anything in this post rings true, please don't hesitate.

CCCS have put together a video, featuring one of their clients, explaining a bit more about what they do, and how they can help.  Take a look.

This is not a sponsored post. I have not been told what to write. While I was approached to write a post, I agreed to do so as this is a subject I feel strongly about. I have not received any compensation or incentive for posting it. Links are provided for your convenience only.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for writing this. There are lots of people with debt issues as you know so this will help people.


You know what? I love comments. Sometimes I even reply! So leave me a message & brighten up my day!

Please note: Comments on posts over 14 days old are moderated, don't panic. If you're human I will publish. If you're a spammer, I won't, but you can't read this anyway, can you?