Wiltshire Citizens Advice staff prepare for their busiest day of the year - as debts mount
The end of January brings the bills from spending on festive fun, food and gifts. This is the serious outcome, the downside of Christmas - and Citizens Advice Wiltshire is preparing for what's expected to be their busiest day of the year as people seek help with their debts: January 31.
Analysis of national data from the past year reveals that on 31 January 2017 Citizens Advice helped 2,800 people - 30 per cent above the daily average. That is one person seeking help from Citizens Advice every 10 seconds.
In the 12 months to 17 November 2017, there were 9,608,399 page views on the Citizens Advice website. The busiest day was January 30 with 59,000 views. The daily average for the year was 26,300.
Locally, Wiltshire Citizens Advice is expecting 300 people to seek advice on debt throughout the first month of the year. Wiltshire Citizens Advice provided assistance to people seeking help for a wide variety of debt concerns, including council tax arrears, rent arrears, water bills and credit card debt.
To help people kick off 2018 on a stronger financial footing, Wiltshire Citizens Advice is sharing its six top tips to help people get their finances in order for the New Year.
Suzanne Wigmore, Chief Officer of Wiltshire Citizens Advice, explains the surge in calls: “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.
“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.”
Wiltshire Citizens Advice has six top tips to sort out debts:
1. Work out how much you owe - Make a list of who you owe money to and add up how much you need to pay each month. If you don’t have your most recent statements, contact your creditor to find out what you owe.
2. Prioritise your debts - Your rent or mortgage, energy and council tax are called priority debts as there can be serious consequences if you don’t pay them. These should always be paid first. Separate these and work out how much you owe.
3. Work out how much you can pay - Create a budget by adding up your essential living costs, such as food and housing, and taking away these from your income. Any money you have spare can be put towards your debts. The Citizens Advice online budgeting tool can help.
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 first 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 - If you’ve got little or no money spare to pay your priority debts seek advice from us straight away.
For information and advice, contact Wiltshire Citizens Advice on 03444 111 444 or drop into your local Citizens Advice office. For details of your nearest office go to: cabwiltshire.org.uk