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At StepChange Debt Charity we want you to be free of debt and save money.

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How does your mental health affect your money? Have your say.

posted by in Living with debt Leave a comment

Bronwen Dalley Smith, Communications and Events Assistant for the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, has written a guest post to tell us about the work they’re doing to support people dealing with debt and mental health problems.

Last year, nearly 600,000 people turned to StepChange Debt Charity for debt advice. That’s more than one person every minute of every day, throughout the whole of 2016. While this was StepChange’s highest yearly record to date, they were able to help.

At the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute we regularly talk to people who are getting their finances back on track with the help of StepChange Debt Charity. Yet, as a research charity exploring the link between financial difficulty and mental health, we couldn’t help but be concerned by this figure.

Half of British adults with a debt problem also have a mental health problem, so it can be assumed that nearly 300,000 of those who contacted StepChange last year were also struggling with poor mental health. The two are so closely entwined, that it is often impossible to identify which is the cause and which is the effect.

Whether mental health problems hinder your ability to manage your money or your financial situation worsens your mental health, once entered, the cycle can seem never-ending. Continue reading »

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Reclaim PPI for free

posted by in Making money 67 Comments

Check your credit agreementYou’ve probably heard about the mis-selling of payment protection insurance, the “reclaim PPI” adverts, and the huge refunds some people have received. Because of the big payouts that some people are entitled to, claims management companies have sprung up, trying to earn commission by claiming refunds for you.

But reclaiming PPI isn’t as difficult as you might think, and we highly recommend that you reclaim any mis-sold PPI yourself. It’s free, and we can show you how.

Continue reading »

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Top 5 debt news stories for January 2017

posted by in Debt news Leave a comment

It’s been busy start to the year, with news that HSBC is to redress around £4m to customers after the regulator found unfair charges were added to some of its customer’s debts. Latest figures released by the Bank of England also show soaring levels of consumer debt.

HMRC have released a list of the worst excuses for not paying the minimum wage, as part of a new campaign; and the BBC reported that thousands are missing out on a little-known benefit that could see grandparents £230 a year better off when they retire.

Continue reading »

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Debt collection company refunds & writes off £414m

posted by in Debt news Leave a comment

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that Motormile Finance, a debt purchasing and collections company, has agreed to write-off £414m of debt for over 500,000 of its customers for past failures in its collections process.

The redress will consist of £154,000 in cash payments to customers and the writing-off of £414m of debt where the firm’s been unable to provide evidence that the balance of a debt is correct and properly due to be repaid.

Bradford-based Motormile Finance are also known as MMF, MMF Debt Purchase and MMF UK.

What happened?

The FCA investigation found that the Motormile Finance had inadequate systems, and didn’t conduct the required checks when buying a portfolio of debts (commonly known as ‘debt books’) from creditors. This process, known as due diligence, meant that the firm couldn’t always be sure that the balance of some customers’ debts were correct.

Other poor practices were also found at the firm, and the company are reported to be making improvements to their processes to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

What’s Motormile Finance going to do about it?

Affected customers will receive either a cash refund, have their outstanding debt balances written off, or in some situations both. The redress will consist of £154,000 in cash payments to customers, and £414m will be used to write off debt balances.

The FCA have since authorised Motormile Finance to continue trading, after it was satisfied that the poor practices at the firm were historical, and major changes have since been made.

A spokesperson for the FCA said:

“We have agreed this package, and previous action, to protect the customers of Motormile from unfair practices. We have worked closely with Motormile, and are now satisfied with their progress and the way that they will address their previous mistakes.”

I’m a Motormile customer, what should I do?

If you’re affected, you don’t need to take any action. Motormile Finance will contact you to explain how the refund will be dealt with. They’ll be in touch by February 2017 at the latest.

There’s more information for customers who think they’re affected on the Motormile website.

I’m a StepChange Debt Charity client – what do I need to do?

If you’re on a debt solution with us and you’re told you’ll receive money or have your balance reduced or written off, you should get in touch with us to let us know. We’ll see if this affects your solution, and let you know if you need to do anything.

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9 free ways to boost your happiness

posted by in Budgeting, Saving money Leave a comment

There are times when we feel like we could do with a boost but can be hard to know exactly what to do to make ourselves feel better. It’s even harder to know how to increase your happiness if you don’t have spare cash.

Don’t worry though, there are plenty of ways to feel happy without having to spend a pound. Continue reading »

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MoneyAware’s £3.21 Secret Santa challenge!

posted by in Saving money Leave a comment

This month’s challenge is to buy a Secret Santa gift for a colleague for exactly £3.21. Why £3.21? Because we like to make life difficult for ourselves! Also, by setting a strict price limit it means you have to put that little bit more effort and thought into your gift buying.

‘Secret Santa’, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is where everyone picks a name out of a hat and has to buy a gift for the person they picked. It’s a good way to reduce present buying, as you only have to buy one gift, rather than getting something for everyone.

Feel free to use this article for inspiration if you’re doing a Secret Santa yourself this year. Just don’t hold us responsible if your gift choices make you unpopular!

Continue reading »

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Tasty meals for under a pound – the MoneyAware cheap meals challenge

posted by in Saving money 2 Comments

This month we’ve challenged ourselves to cook the tastiest meal for under a pound per portion. The winner is the person that manages to find the right balance between thrifty ingredients and a tasty meal.

Cooking on a budget can be a challenge and it’s easy to fall back on beans on toast or ready meals if you’re skint. Reading this challenge might give you some inspiration for tasty alternatives when you’re next planning a cheap meal.

This is the latest in a range of challenges the MoneyAware team have undertaken. Last month we tried to have as much fun as possible for five pounds, previous challenges have included: cooking with cheap cuts of meat,  road-testing budgeting apps and DIY Christmas presents. Continue reading »

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