More families in Stevenage and North Herts turning to debt helpline

A survey has found calls to a debt helpline go up across the area.

A survey has found calls to a debt helpline go up across the area. - Credit: Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

The number of people in Stevenage and North Herts turning to debt advice services for help has risen by almost 20 per cent in the last year, new figures show.

StepChange Debt Charity says its team saw a 19 per cent increase in calls in 2014 compared with the previous year.

The charity’s helpline was contacted by 973 people from the SG postcode in 2013, but that increased to 1,154 last year.

The figures were released as part of the charity’s Debt Awareness Week, which ends on Sunday.

Chief executive Mike O’Connor said: “More and more families in the Stevenage area are falling into debt and struggling to make ends meet.

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“For those living on the edge of their financial means, taking control of the situation can seem a daunting, if not impossible, prospect, but taking positive steps towards tackling debt is crucial to getting back on your feet.”

The average person owed £13,046 in unsecured debt such as credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts.

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Catherine Bennett from the North Herts and District Citizens Advice Bureau said: “Across the area we have seen a noticeable increase in overall clients year on year.

“The client figures for debt alone have increased at Stevenage CAB by 77 per cent and at North Herts CAB by 20 per cent for the last three months of 2014 compared to the same period the year before.”

Stevenage CAB’s chief executive Daniel Marshall added: “Debt remains a huge issue in Stevenage and we continue to see a significant number of debt problems coming through our doors.

“The issues we are seeing are increasingly complex so we encourage people to get help as early as they can. The earlier they seek help, often the more options available.”

The two CAB branches operate an advice line on 03444 111 444 from Monday to Friday between 10am and 4pm, as well as hosting face-to-face sessions throughout the week.

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