This May was officially the wettest May since 1983. Hopefully you’ve dried out and ready to face June!
So was it dark clouds or blue skies in the world of debt in May? We’ve got payday loan news, energy bill updates and the latest on ‘Bedroom Tax’. Here are the most important stories in one handy article.
Payday loans slammed as “out of control”
Payday loan companies have been accused of lending money at soaring interest rates to people with mental health problems, under-18s and customers who were drunk.
Citizens Advice investigated lending practices slamming the lenders. Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice chief executive, described the payday loan industry as “out of control”. She urged the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to ban such firms.
The OFT has put 50 lenders on the payday loan naughty step for 12 weeks promising to shut them down if they don’t improve their behavior. Reports of these payday lenders being sent to bed without any supper are as yet unconfirmed.
The OFT have stated that there must be clearer affordability checks and lenience to people who are struggling to make payments. Now they’ve been warned and the OFT is “not going to tell them again!”
StepChange Debt Charity lifts the lid on debt and mental health
It is well known that if you cut yourself you might need stitches, break your arm you get it set in a cast. But if you’re affected by poor mental health there can be a stigma to seeking help.
In May we worked to raise awareness of the link between debt problems and mental health. Our online debt advice tool, Debt Remedy, confidentially asks users about their mental health. Over one month we asked 5,000 people and 58% said they suffered from severe anxiety or depression.
Being in debt can affect every aspect of your life but getting practical help if you’re struggling can start to address this.
We’re here to support our clients for as long as is needed. Visit our Debt in Mind page to read more.
Energy bills soar over rate of inflation
The cost of powering a home doesn’t make for easy reading…especially by candlelight but on average energy bills are rising by £100 a year.
Industry regulator Ofgem said the average bill has risen by 10% each year since 2011 while the average wage of a full-time employee has gone up just 1.4% (now at £26,500).
The knowledgeable people at Ofgem warn of further rises. They predict £95 will be added to the average gas and electric dual fuel bill in the next 12 months.
See if you can cut the cost with our utility switching service.
Leeds council dodge the ‘bedroom tax’
Just call Leeds council the Robin Hood of the political system: it’s found a novel way of robbing from the rich to give to the poor. Reclassifying more than 800 ‘spare’ bedrooms in their council houses as ‘non-specific rooms’ means the tenants are exempt from the tax.
The government’s ‘under-occupancy charge’ or ‘bedroom tax’, which came into effect in April, reduced housing benefit to council tenants who are deemed to have more bedrooms than they need.
Some 660,000 people are said to be affected, losing an average £14 a week.
It is rumoured that from now on Leeds council members will all wear green felt hats and live in trees…no not really but it’s an interesting twist in the bedroom tax story.
Visit our new section if you’re worried about the 2013 benefits changes.
…..So now you’re up-to-date with the debt news for the last 30 days. See you same time next month for all of June’s biggest stories!