Overspending at Christmas is set to haunt many for the next 12 months

Money advice is readily available
Money advice is readily available

As most people return to work having enjoyed their festive break, debt charities are warning of some tough times ahead as families have to decide whether to pay off the credit card debt or buy food!

A third of Britons borrowed money to pay for presents this Christmas, while one in five are taking on credit to pay for food, according to new research by the Money Advice Trust.

One in eight Britons could struggle to make ends meet this month after spending more than they could afford over Christmas, the charity has warned.

The Money Advice Trust said more than 12 per cent of the 2,000 people polled expected their finances to slip back in January as a result of their spending over the festive period.

The survey comes as official figures published yesterday show new personal debt in the UK soared to its highest level in more than six years in November.

The poll found a significant proportion of people relied on credit to get through the Christmas season, with some missing payments on household bills to cope financially. At the same time, relatively few people are taking the pro-active steps required to manage Christmas finances.

Amid this high level of Christmas borrowing, on top of new Bank of England figures showing a significant boom in consumer credit lending more generally, the Money Advice Trust is expecting an increase in the need for free debt advice in January.

Last Christmas, the number of calls to National Debtline jumped 80 percent between December and January, while the number of visitors seeking advice via the National Debtline website jumped by two thirds.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said: “Millions of Britons put Christmas on credit, and while many will be able to pay this extra borrowing off, we know that a large number will now fall into debt problems.

A spokesperson for West Lothian Advice Shop added: “Unfortunately some of us spend much more than we can afford and it can be easy to get into a situation where our debt gets out of hand. Make 2015 the year where you maximise your income, get your debt under control and maintain your ongoing liabilities.”

Call West Lothian Council’s Advice Shop. It’s a free, impartial and confidential service to help the people of West Lothian with a focus to alleviate poverty, promote inclusion and equality through advice, assistance and advocacy. The Advice Shop offer expert advice on all aspects of debt and money advice. Last year alone they assisted 850 individuals and families with debt issues and in total dealt with £12million pounds of debt. All conversations are completely confidential.

A handy debt self help guide is also available online at www.westlothian.gov.uk/adviceshop

This has been designed to answer the many questions you may have about how to get started dealing with debts.

One of the main overriding warnings given out is don’t use companies that offer short term loans. However well they advertise making their product sound inviting, people should be aware of the astronomical rates of interest that they use if the loans are not repaid in time.

No debt problems are unsolvable. It might not be easy or quick, but there’s always a route. And the earlier you deal with the problems, the easier they become.

Debt isn’t just a finance issue. It feeds into all elements of life. So solutions are wide and varied; from cutting interest costs, budgeting, or simply getting free one-on-one debt advice and help.

This is where a locally based one-stop shop can come into its own, such as that provided by West Lothian and Falkirk Council and the Citizens Advice Service.

These organisations can discuss with individuals how to make a plan of action to help resolve the difficulty.

No one ever wants to get into debt. The most important thing you can do is get a disciplined handle on your spending.

falkirk council debt advice:

Carronbank House, Carronbank Crescent, Denny FK6 6GA. Tel: 01324 506735 or email:

debtadvice@falkirk.gov.uk

west lothian council debt advice:

Bathgate Partnership Centre

South Bridge Street, Bathgate. EH48 1TS. Tel: 01506 283000 or email: adviceshop@westlothian.gov.uk

EDINBURGH COUNCIL DEBT ADVICE:

Dundas Street CAB, 58 Dundas Street, EH3 6QZ. Tel: 0131 558 3681 or email: advice.shop@edinburgh.gov.uk

citizens advice bureau:

(Linlithgow) - Suite Seven, Almondbank Centre, Shiel Walk, Craigshill, Livingston. Tel: 01506 432977 or email: enquiries@cabwestlothian.org.uk

(Bo’ness) - Bo’ness Health Centre outreach unit, Dean Road

Bo’ness EH51 0DQ. Tel: 01324 483467 or email: bureau@grangemouthcab.casonline.org.uk

(South Queensferry) - South Queensferry Medical Practice,

41 The Loan, South Queensferry, EH30 9HA. Tel: 0131 537 4440. This Outreach Service gives welfare advice for registered patients of the surgery by appointment only on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning.