Charity warns Christmas debt could take years to repay

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 16th Jan 2023) London, Uk – –

Money borrowed to pay for Christmas could take years to repay, according to debt advice charity StepChange.

The charity said worries about debt had led to a surge in enquiries as soon as the festive season was over.

Its warning comes as a poll for the BBC suggests fears over unmanageable debt.


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A third of respondents to the poll who used credit to help get through Christmas and the holiday season said they were not confident about their ability to repay.

StepChange said it had advised more people on 3 January, the first working day after the festive break, than on any day last year.

“Christmas can put great financial pressure on people, causing some to rely on credit and spend more than they can afford. In some cases, this can lead to a debt hangover in the new year that may take many months or even years to repay,” said Richard Lane, from StepChange.

He said many people were unable to adjust their spending habits or have a sufficient income as bills and prices soared, and he urged those struggling not to “suffer in silence”.

The government has promised support payments to those most in need.

The online poll of 4,187 UK adults by Savanta Comres for BBC News, Morning Live and Rip Off Britain was carried out on 4-6 January. It found that more than eight in 10 of those asked were worried about the rising cost of living, with some losing sleep over it.

But it suggests people are finding different ways to cut costs to pay their bills. A majority of respondents have been turning the heating down and lights off, or reducing their grocery shop.

That is also the case for Natasha Miller and her mum Linda, who spoke to BBC News as they took six-month-old Lana and two-year-old Penny to a free story and rhyme session in Garforth, Leeds.

“We try not to bath the girls every night, that's the big one,” Natasha said.

Linda added: “Week by week, with food prices, we've tried to budget, to only buy the things we need and not waste as much. We switch off the lights, and we keep the temperature at 16C to 18C in the house. We're conscious of what we're using.

“Normally we buy each other presents but we did a Secret Santa this year so we weren't buying for everyone.”

The poll for the BBC shows half those asked paid for at least some of their Christmas and holiday season spending on credit, and many would have received credit card bills in recent days.


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Many turn to credit at expensive times of year because they have little in savings.

Official data from the Office for National Statistics shows almost one in 10 people (8%) have had a direct debit, bill or standing order they have been unable to pay in the past month, rising to 10% of those aged 16 to 29, and 13% of those aged 30-49.

By Kevin Peachey