Debt and money news – November 2015

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Welcome to November’s debt and money news, your one-stop-shop for all the latest goings-on in the world of finances. This month’s installment covers wages going up, payday loan refunds, George Osborne’s autumn statement, our new service in Ireland, Black Friday scuffles and this year’s most wanted toys.

As a special bonus, if you make it to the end there’s a link to a video that will show you how to make your own Tracy Island!

Average earnings go up, according to  the ONS

We’re starting this month off with some good news for once! The Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that average earnings have risen by 2% in the past year, the first above-inflation rise since 2008. This rise, combined with low inflation means that many will be feeling a little bit better off.

The rise is of course good news, but our head of policy, Peter Tutton warned that there is still a long way to go:

“People are still struggling on zero hours contracts, low paid jobs and other insecure incomes and this small rise in wages will not mean everyone is suddenly out of the woods.”

Six million workers paid less than the living wage

To balance out the good news of the story above, data from The Living Wage Foundation revealed that six million workers are earning less what they believe to be a living wage. The living wage is a voluntary hourly rate of pay that The Living Wage Foundation believe should be enough to live on. It is currently £7.85 an hour outside of the capital and £9.15 in London.

The Living Wage Foundation highlighted that there was a worrying trend of female and young workers being the most likely to earn below the living wage. Benefits are a political ‘hot potato’ at the moment, but if your earnings aren’t enough to cover your living costs then it may be useful to use our online benefits calculator.

QuickQuid and Pounds to Pocket payday loan customers to receive a refund

Nearly 4,000 borrowers will receive a refund from payday lender CashEuroNet UK LLC, trading as QuickQuid and Pounds to Pocket. This is after an investigation revealed they’d lent more money than their customers could be expected to repay.

This is the latest in a series of stories involving payday lenders refunding money to their clients. Dollar Financial UK (trading as The Money Shop, among other names) refunded over £15m to 147,000 borrowers at the end of last month.

Our Chief Executive, Mike O’Connor, was pleased to see more payday lenders changing their practices but called for better forms of credit to be created for people in need.

The Autumn Statement

“George Osborne’s Autumn Statement” sounds like a psychedelic prog-rock band from the seventies, but it’s actually an update on plans for the economy and government spending. It took place on Wednesday 26 November.

On the same day, George Osborne announced the Spending Review, which happens whenever the Government wants it to (the last one was 2010) ,and looks at longer-term spending, including budgets for governmental departments.

StepChange Debt Charity Ireland launches

On Monday 16 November we launched our new telephone debt advice service in Ireland. It’s called StepChange Debt Charity Ireland and will offer free and independent help for anyone struggling with debt problems.

StepChange Ireland will be able to give advice on the full range of debts, such as bank overdrafts, mortgage arrears, credit union debts and credit cards. The service is funded by five major Irish banks and aims to help 10,000 people over the next three years.

Police issue Black Friday warning to shops

Shop bosses have been warned by the National Police Chiefs’ Council to have enough staff and security guards on hand to deal with hordes of bargain-crazed shoppers on Black Friday.

Unseemly scenes and minor scuffles have broken out in previous Black Friday sales, so the Police have said that shops need to make sure they keep things under control this year. ASDA have made the decision to spread their special offers out over the build up to Christmas rather than cram their best offers into a day or two of sales.

The most sought after toys of Christmas 2015

And finally… the Toy Retailers Association have announced their top 12 toys for this year’s festive period. Worryingly for parents on a budget, only two of the top 12 toys costs under £20, with the Millennium Falcon costing a whopping £120.

The list of sought after toys is dominated by Star Wars and Frozen toys, however, I was pleased to see that Tracy Island of Thunderbirds fame is also on the list. Tracy Island was a most wished for present when I was a kid too though I had to settle for making my own Tracy Island, following the instructions on Blue Peter.

That’s it for November’s debt news. We’ll be back next month with a super-duper, bumper Christmas edition of festive debt news.

James Winterbottom has been a debt advisor for six years. Away from work he is an amateur app developer and writes fiction. James is a lifelong supporter of Huddersfield Town football club, which suggests he is either very loyal or very daft. He also likes to talk about himself in the third person in bio pages.

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