Insolvency Lawyer Comments On Latest R3 Figures
Although 36% of adults in Yorkshire and Humber have debt concerns, only 1% intend to seek debt advice in the next six months according to R3’s latest Personal Debt Snapshot. The research from the insolvency trade body also reveals that only 4% of people in the region have ever sought debt advice.
Andrew Walker, chair of R3 in Yorkshire and partner at Irwin Mitchell, commented: “This snapshot uncovers the continuing stigma that surrounds debt leading to a huge unwillingness to take debt advice. In contrast, when people have money to invest, they don’t think twice about seeking professional advice and what’s more, that advice has to be regulated and there is an obligation to give ‘best advice’.
“It’s frustrating as we know that those who do face up to their financial problems and seek proper advice invariably have a positive experience. While there is some confusion about where to seek clear advice for about a quarter of the UK population, there seems to be a ‘head in the sand’ approach or maybe it is the stigma of bankruptcy.”
The main types of debt causing worry in the region are: credit cards (45%); overdrafts (34%); and mortgage repayments (21%). Worryingly, 20% of people in Yorkshire and Humber report they have no savings at all at the moment; 8% often struggle to make it to pay day; and 5% are falling behind with some bills and payments. Forty-seven per cent of people in the region are spending less on non-essential items due to rises in the cost of living.
The snapshot indicates that in Yorkshire and Humber 29% of people do not think it is clear where to go for good, impartial debt advice, yet 21% of those who had taken debt advice wish they had done so sooner. This is set against a backdrop of record personal insolvencies for 2011 and a tendency for more people to think their financial situation will worsen rather than improve. However, there has been a slight decrease in the number of people with no savings, now at one in five of those in Yorkshire and Humber.
Of greater concern is a group of over two million GB adults who say they are currently in a Debt Management Plan, much higher than estimates from previous years.
Mr Walker concluded: “The point is we simply don’t know how many individuals are in a Debt Management Plan – no-one is counting them. To have some idea of the levels of debt in this country we should know. My concern is that people are clearly unwilling to take debt advice anyway, so are far more likely to be pushed into a ‘product’ by those with a vested interest.
“Over a third of those who did take debt advice were not aware of the range of options they had beforehand. I would recommend taking a deep breath before choosing a debt solution and make sure you know what all the options are.”