Debt advisors expecting a huge surge of calls from people struggling with debt

Debt advisers are expecting a surge in calls during January

Debt advisers are expecting a surge in calls during January - Credit: Archant

Debt advisors in the area are preparing for an avalanche of calls from people struggling to pay their bills after Christmas.

Citizens Advice Rural Cambs says it is expecting January 31 to be its busiest day of the year for people seeking help to cope with their debts.

Analysis of national data from the past 12 months has revealed that on January 31, 2017 the organisation advised 2,800 people, 30 per cent above the daily average. This equates to one person seeking help every 10 seconds.

January 30 was the most popular day for seeking advice online, with twice as many page views per day than the rest of the year.

Locally, Citizens Advice Rural Cambs is expecting about 100 people to seek advice on debt throughout the first month of the year.

Citizens Advice Rural Cambs provided assistance to people seeking help for a wide variety of debt concerns, including credit card debt, unsecured loans, mortgage arrears and benefit overpayments.

To help people start off 2018 on a stronger financial footing, the charity is sharing its top six tips to help people get their finances in order for the year ahead.

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Dr Batul Dungarwalla, chief officer of Citizens Advice Rural Cambs, said: “There is a surge in demand for our debt advice towards the second half of January. Christmas in particular can take a heavy toll on people already struggling to make their money last and leave them with a debt burden in the new year. But this needn’t become a crisis - problems can be taken care of if you seek advice early.

She added: “The new year is a good time to get on top of your debts, cut your costs or budget better. Citizens Advice can help you review your situation so you can make decisions that improve your financial security.”

The top tips

1: Work out how much you owe and make a list of who you owe money to and add up how much you need to pay each month.

2: Prioritise your debts. Rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. These should always be paid first.

3: Work out how much you can pay. Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and housing. Take these away from your income and any money you have left can be put towards your debts.

4: Paying urgent debts. You may have several priority debts and can’t pay them all. Contact all your creditors to find out if you can negotiate on how much you pay, or when you pay them. Always pay priority creditors who are taking action against you.

5: Paying non-urgent debts. If you have any money left after paying priority debts, consider getting a free debt-management plan. You’ll make one monthly payment to the plan provider, who will handle paying your creditors. Or contact your creditors and offer them what you can afford to pay.

6: If you can’t pay your debts or do not have enough money to pay your priority debts, seek advice from Citizens Advice straight away.

INFO: For information and advice, contact Citizens Advice Rural Cambs on 0344 245 1292 (Advice line) or online:

Citizens Advice (national) analysed the number of people visiting centres with debt queries, from November 1, 2016 to October 31,2017.

On January 31, 2017, 2,779 people sought help with their debt problems, compared to an average of 2,151 for the rest of the year.

In the 12 months to November 2017, there were 9,608,399 page views on the Citizens Advice website. The busiest day was January 30, which had 59,000 views. The daily average for the year was 26,300.