Know your rights – July’s debt news

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Know your rights

DEBT NEWS!

Have you spent the last month looking at the calendar eagerly awaiting the next thrilling installment of debt news? Well the wait is finally over!

Strap yourself in and let us guide you through the weird and wonderful world of debt news.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then let’s begin.

Rent arrears up

We started the month with reports that rent arrears are on the rise. The latest figures seem to suggest that covering even our most basic living expense is proving to be too much for many. If you’re struggling with rent arrears then you should get in touch with us for advice.

This news comes alongside research from Scotland that suggests we’ll be seeing even more rent arrears as benefit changes kick in. The “bedroom tax” (or under-occupancy charge to give it its official name) is cited as a possible cause of people falling behind with their housing costs. The Department for Work and Pensions says there’s no evidence that people aren’t getting the help they need.

Payday mayday

StepChange Debt Charity had a part to play in this month’s news! We released figures that showed people needing help with payday loans could be set to almost double this year.

We’ve also seen some worrying trends in the way many payday lenders work. So much so that we threw our weight behind Paul Blomfield MP’s private member’s bill to reform the payday loan industry and demand changes to the way the worst payday loan companies operate.

Unfortunately the bill stalled in the House of Commons, but MPs are scheduled to discuss the issue again in September. So there’s still time for you to email your MP about payday loan reform and show that you want payday loan companies to behave better.

You’re a celebrity, get some common sense!

Earlier in the month the Guardian reported that our friends at Citizens Advice had some stern words for high-profile celebs who endorsed expensive forms of credit. They warned that glossy TV ads had a tendency to disguise the misery of borrowers swamped by debt.

As Carol Vorderman will no doubt tell you, few celebs are looked on favourably when they put their names and faces to credit products. The lifestyle of the rich and famous cannot be attained with a payday loan, no matter how ‘dead fast’ Kerry Katona finds them!

Nuisance calls company fined

The Information Commissioner’s Office (sadly nothing to do with the Commissioner in Batman) have issued a fine to Manchester company Tameside Energy Services for making nuisance phone calls.

The firm received over 1,000 complaints about their service, which included ignoring requests to remove numbers from their database and not checking to see if people had registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

Half of Britons worried about debt

R3, the insolvency trade body, revealed that half of all Brits are worried about debt. Which begs the question: what are the other half worrying about?

Anyway, it’s worth pointing out that’s only half of the adult population. Hopefully we can assume that those not old enough to apply for credit don’t have too many financial worries just yet, besides the soaring cost of crisps and sweets.

Disabled people and doorstep loans

Disability charity Scope were concerned by their finding that disabled people are three times more likely to take out doorstep loans. Their research suggests that disabled people are turning to high cost forms of credit for basic living costs.

Doorstep loans are usually for small amounts but typically have large amounts of interest. Many disabled people live on a very restricted budget, so Scope worry that taking out these type of debts could make them struggle even more.

No deal

And finally, Tamworth plasterer, Andy Barker was given a 13-week prison sentence for failing to notify his Official Receiver of his £35,000 winnings on the TV show Deal or No Deal. His big win landed him in hot water because he was an undischarged bankrupt at the time he appeared on the show.

Rather than inform the Official Receiver of his winnings (and see his prize money passed onto his debts) he spent the lot within three months.

Hopefully this high profile case will show that it’s important to always be upfront and honest when you’ve declared yourself bankrupt.

We never expected to close this month’s debt news with a moral lesson but that’s how it worked out! Stay safe and we’ll be back next month with more of the latest debt news.

At StepChange Debt Charity we want you to be free of debt and save money. Debt geeks Peer, Mat, James, Jess and Rachel tweet!

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