From horse hijinks in the supermarkets to Edna Birch’s harrowing time with vets and debts in Emmerdale, February certainly has been a busy month.
And it’s been a busy month for us, as our TV adverts continue to appear during primetime ITV (we were on Corrie!).
Anyway, we’ve rounded up our top news stories over the month, hot off the press!
Payday loans on the rise in Scotland
The amount of people seeking debt advice for payday loans in Scotland has rocketed. Our recent stats say we helped 1,171 people in Scotland with payday loan debts in 2012, up from just 246 in 2010.
What’s more, in 2012 the average Scottish payday loan debt was £1,665, up from just £1,061 in 2010.
Sharon Bell, the Head of StepChange Debt Charity in Scotland said that “The dramatic rise in problem payday loan debt in Scotland “is alarming as (they) can quickly spiral out of control.
“It’s crucial that anyone struggling to repay what they owe at the end of the month takes control and seeks (free debt advice) instead.”
Ofgen warns of further fuel price hikes
As if our utility bills weren’t high enough, Ofgen has voiced concerns that we could wind up paying more as supplies tighten and demand increases.
Obviously, we find this viewpoint very worrying, as an increase in gas, electric or oil cost will result in more of us struggling with utility bill debts.
Ann Robinson of uSwitch said “The Government needs to consider the impact that (this will have) on consumers and the affordability of household energy”.
Under 25s struggling the most
As you may have read in our recent blogpost, under-25s are struggling with debt and unemployment more than any other age group.
34% of those under the age of 25 who came to us for help said that unemployment was reason for their debt problem. Furthermore, 42% of our under-25 clients were out of work, compared with 30% for 25-39 year-olds and 31% for the 40-59s.
Our external affairs director Delroy Corinaldi said: “These findings reflect the vulnerable position that many young people find themselves in and is likely to overshadow (their lives) for many years to come.”
Driving licence fines threaten two million drivers
Drivers face a fine totalling £1,000 if they fail to update their photo-card driving licences, according to the BBC. More than 30 million drivers now have one since the photo-card license came into effect 15 years ago.
These licences are usually valid for 10 years and it’s up to drivers to renew the photograph at the same time as they renew their licence.
While this alone isn’t strictly debt news, we know better than most about the devastating effect a fine can have on a person’s budget. Angry letters can soon escalate to bailiff action and even more stress for you.
If you need to update your driving license then please don’t hang around. If you have a fine that’s putting a clamp on the rest of your budget then please get in touch with us.
A new 12 month option for council tax
From April this year, council tax payers will be able to spread the payments over 12 months, according to MoneySavingExpert.com.
It’s hoped that by doing this rather than paying over the traditional 10 months, people will be able to keep on top of their council tax a lot easier.
If you want to switch to this new payment scheme then you have to let your council know. You don’t have to wait till next year’s bill either – you can contact your council and ask them to set this up now.
Debt management taught in schools
And on a more cheerful note, we were over the moon to hear that after considerable campaigning by Martin Lewis, of MoneySavingExpert.com fame, Debt Management would soon be made a compulsory part of the school curriculum.
This’ll be part of a larger syllabus under the umbrella of ‘Citizenship’. The subject topics will range from budgeting and money management to credit advice and financial products.
The new curriculum will be shown to schools this September, and will be taught in classrooms by September next year. This will hopefully mean a new generation of financially savvy, money-aware (sorry, couldn’t resist) adults in the not-too-distant future – hooray!