Charity Says Pandemic Debt Crisis Is Inevitable

With COVID-19 temporary support schemes ending and energy prices rising, a charity is launching a campaign urging people in debt to seek free help

National debt help charity Christians Against Poverty (CAP) fears many families will see their debts rocket as temporary support for those struggling financially comes to an end this autumn, coupled with Ofgem’s announcement that energy prices will rise in October.

TIME TO SEEK FREE DEBT HELP

CAP is launching its ‘Time to seek free debt help’ campaign this week to let people know that free debt help is available to access before support schemes end.

Credit for media use: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

CAP’s UK Chief Executive, Paula Stringer, explains why this campaign is so vital: “With measures such as the furlough scheme due to come to an end on 30 September, along with fuel prices and weekly shopping bills increasing, it’s expected that more people will feel the squeeze on their incomes and need free help out of debt.

“The Government is also planning to make one of the biggest overnight cuts to social security in history by removing an extra £20 a week from Universal Credit claimants in October. If this goes ahead it will have a devastating impact on millions of families and we’re continuing to ask MPs to join us in calling for the cut to be cancelled. Keeping this £20 per week will make a significant difference to some of the most vulnerable people in our society preventing them from being plunged into further poverty.

“It’s also just been announced that energy prices are set to rise again in October which will hit many of those on a low income even further. That’s why this campaign is so important. We can all play our part in the ‘Time to seek free debt help’ campaign by raising awareness of the free debt help available to those who are struggling.

“We are urging everyone in debt not to wait until other support ends and things hit crisis point. There are a range of charities that offer free debt help and money advice. We’re launching this campaign to raise awareness of the help on offer.”

THE LONG STRUGGLE

Paula continued: “Despite all of the issues people are facing, our latest client report, conducted during the pandemic, found that half (50%) of CAP clients wait over a year before seeking debt help and a quarter (25%) wait over three years. Our clients tell us the most common reasons for waiting are thinking they could sort out the problem themselves (62%) or they felt embarrassed (58%) and ashamed (49%) about their debts. On top of all this, before coming to CAP over half (58%) of people felt that they had nobody to turn to when they had a problem.

“We want people to know they have nothing to fear by seeking help, they won’t be judged in any way and CAP is for anyone who needs debt help. We’re busy but our staff and volunteers are working extra hard to create capacity to cope with the expected debt crisis so as many people as possible can receive the help they need.

“Many other free debt help charities are also offering vital support. The most important thing isn’t which charity someone chooses to call, it’s making that first call for help.”

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

CAP Client, Julie*, says:

I had been packing my debts and worries into a box and ignoring them, and that was weighing heavily on my shoulders.

It got to the stage that when I was driving home from work one day and my children and ex-husband were at home, I thought for a split-second about driving the car off a hill.

When I got in touch with CAP and met somebody who was non-judgemental and who I was very happy to open up to, that was such a relief. Once I got over the embarrassment and came to terms with the fact there are thousands of people in this situation I thought ‘don’t hide it’.

* Name changed to protect the anonymity of CAP client.

WHO TO CALL FOR HELP

If you’re in debt and need help, contact one of these organisations:

  • Christians Against Poverty
  • StepChange
  • PayPlan
  • Community Money Advice
  • National Debtline
  • Citizens Advice
  • MoneyHelper

CAP freephone helpline number: 0800 328 0006

Written By: Joseph Beardsall

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