Rebecca Evans AM, Assembly Member for Gower, is today calling on constituents to spot the signs that people close to them might be experiencing problem debt. Debt and money worries are often seen as a taboo subject, so it is time to get people talking about their money worries and getting advice earlier to prevent their debts becoming unmanageable.
This call for action comes following new findings about the symptoms of problem debt by the Money Advice Service. The research found that debt problems often build up over time, so people may not be fully aware of the extent of their financial difficulties until they reach crisis point. Identifying the signs and getting help early prevents these problems becoming critical.
Around 35,003 of people in Swansea regularly miss bill re-payments, or feel overwhelmed by their debts. Of those, fewer than one in five seek advice to help their situation. This means a worrying number of people in Gower could be suffering in silence with serious money problems, with young adults, people who rent their homes, large families and single parents noticeably at higher risk. Friends and family can make all the difference to break the silence and encourage them to get help.
Rebecca Evans AM, said:
“For too long, debt and money worries have been a taboo subject in the UK. Yet research from the Money Advice Service has shown that one in six of us experience problem debt which negatively impacts our lives. That is why I am supporting their call for family and friends to spot the signs of problem debts and help their loved ones to tackle their money worries.
“I encourage people in Gower to talk about money worries, and engage with the Money Advice Service.”
The signs someone is experiencing problem debt are often difficult to spot. They may be hidden due to embarrassment, to protect friends and family from the situation, or because people either don’t realise or want to confront the full extent of their money problem. Signs will vary for each person. However, there are a range of physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms which can give friends and family subtle clues about behaviour which seems out of character.
These signs could include:
There are three simple steps that friends and family can take to help someone who might be experiencing financial difficulties:
1) Start a conversation – Use your own personal experiences to help get to the bottom of their financial worries, make sure you keep the conversation neutral and non-judgmental.
2) Talk to them about free debt advice – Help your friend or family member to understand that free debt advice will help them get their finances back on track. Ask them to make a commitment to seek free debt advice. You could also offer encouragement by going along with them.
3) Use the Money Advice Service – Encourage them to use the Debt Test on the Money Advice Service website to work out the best option to help them resolve their money worries and find free debt advice in their area.
Debt advice can have a massive impact on people’s lives. Within three months of receiving advice, 65% of those worried about problem debt are either repaying their debts or have repaid them in full. 73% feel less stressed about dealing with their finances, two thirds (62%) are sleeping better, over half (55%), reported better physical health and 69% said their relationships improved.
Sheila Wheeler, Director of Debt Advice at the Money Advice Service, said:
“With one in six people in the UK at risk of a debt crisis, there is a high chance that someone close to us may be struggling with money troubles. We are calling on friends and family to watch out for the signs someone might need help and to support them to access free debt advice as soon as possible.
“For people who are experiencing financial difficulties, we want you to know that help is available and you do not need to suffer alone. Friends and family will want to help and support you. Free debt advice is available now and will help support you in getting your finances back on track before your money worries become a bigger issue. Use the Debt Test to find out how you can resolve your debts and find free, impartial help in your area.”
For more information visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/debt