Tag Archives: infographic

Child benefit – what are you entitled to? [infographic]

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If you’re an expectant parent, it’s important to know what benefits are available during maternity and paternity leave, and beyond. After all, maximising your income really helps even when you feel you’re OK.

There’s lots of help and support available from the Government that’s specifically designed to help parents and families during this important time in your life.

To help make it clear what benefits are available to you, the Money Advice Service has created this really helpful infographic designed to show each benefit the Government provides, if you’re eligible, and how you can apply.

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Which bills should I pay first?

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Not sure what bills are a priority? Our handy infographic will help!

We’ve noticed a worrying trend of people coming to us for help with arrears on household bills. There has been a dramatic rise in people contact us for help with arrears on rent, council tax, gas, electric and water bills.

We often speak to people who’ve fallen behind on these sorts of bills but continue to pay off their credit card debt. If you’re struggling to pay your bills it’s important to know which ones are most important. Continue reading »


Our busiest week for debt advice [infographic]

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The results are in...

The results are in…

Today we’ve released another infographic on our busiest week of the year – the seven days from ‘Blue Monday’ to the last Sunday in January.

The third week in January’s been our busiest week for at least the last three years, and despite the concept of Blue Monday being a lot of guff, it’s interesting to see that it’s the still the mark in the sand for people to start sorting out their finances.

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Bailiffs: know your rights

posted by in Living with debt 120 Comments

Not all bailiffs are burly!

Not all bailiffs are burly!

The threat of bailiffs (now officially called enforcement agents) at the door can be extremely worrying if you don’t know what powers they have or how to deal with them. Before I started working here I, like most others, thought of bailiffs as a burly men banging the door down. That’s enough to scare anyone, but it’s often far from the truth.

The best way to deal with bailiffs is to know your rights, and this is where we can help.

We’ve put together an infographic (see below) which lists the dos and don’ts when dealing with bailiffs. It’s a handy checklist to refer to for quick advice, but as you may know, bailiff debt law is a complicated topic and it’s important that you get some free and impartial advice if there’s a threat of bailiffs coming to your home.

This article was first written in 2012, there have been updates to bailiffs law since then. For the most up to date information please visit our website.

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London: capital of debt

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London's Trafalgar square

London: home of debt (photo: Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com)

Popular opinion of London isn’t favourable: it’s portrayed as a fat cat city, spending large while the rest of the country suffers from a recession. But this hides a surprising truth: London is actually the most over-indebted region of the country.

Think about the residents of west London borough of Kensington and Chelsea and what comes to mind? It’s unlikely to be an area with the highest debt repayment burden in the capital. Or how about the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham? No one would think of it as one of London’s rent arrears hotspots.

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Debt’s top 10 towns and cities

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Debt hotspots

Debt hotspots

Today we’re launching our latest infographic, highlighting the average debt in the regions and postcode areas of the UK. But where has debt taken hold? Where is debt a way of life, a constant battle, a hotspot?

Most people would instinctively say the debt hotspots would be centred on the inner-cities of London, Birmingham or Glasgow. But while there’s a huge amount of debt contained in those areas, that’s debt relative to the amount of income.

For the highest average debt, we have to look towards the leafy suburbs not the inner-city estates…

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What you think causes personal debt might be wrong

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The causes of debt (click for larger)

The causes of debt (click for larger)

Take a look at the causes of debt graphic to accompany this post.

The main cause of personal debt is thought to be pretty simple: debtors are seduced by consumerism. They went wild in the aisles and now they’re paying the price. They were feckless, reckless and spendthrift, and now the bill has arrived. In essence, overspending is the main cause of debt.

Right? Wrong.

I recently scanned through some newspaper stories on debt, not to see the scale of the issue, but to see what was said in the website comments. I was interested to see what “the person on the street” felt about UK personal debt.

The responses were pretty standard, blaming external factors (it’s Labour’s fault; it’s the Conservatives’ fault), or in a few cases, blaming the banks and lax regulation. However, far and away the biggest blame was reserved for the debtors themselves.

“No one forces you to borrow”

Some example comments, from a newspaper website:

“It is your own fault if you have too much debt. No one forces people to borrow. It’s about time people took responsibility for themselves and grew up”

“Most people are in debt simply because they live in an “I want” society and not a “do I really need it” society”

“At the end of the day don’t borrow if you can’t afford to pay it back. Simple really…”

“If you do not want to be chased for money do not borrow money…”

“[Bankruptcies] encourage the feckless to run up huge bills, hoping that when they become unmanageable some soft judge will release them from their obligations”

“There are millions who have the ‘I want it and I want it now’ attitude and have absolutely no common sense or responsibility”

(Source: Daily Mail)

To be fair, a couple of these comments had been ‘downvoted’ by the rest of the community (in other words they weren’t the view of the majority), but these still give an idea of the perception of how people fall into debt.

At its most extreme it’s a perception that debtors buy plasma TVs, expensive clothes and video games consoles, racking up the bills until the cards are declined, then phoning up a debt help charity like StepChange and pleading poverty, in an effort to get the debt written off.

That’s the perception, but not the reality

Given we ask each of our clients their main reason for falling into debt – so we’re acutely aware of the reality – we thought it would be interesting to test how endemic the perception is and compare against our knowledge. We asked the excellent economics website eZonomics to poll their readers, to find out the general consensus.

They asked:

What do you think is the biggest cause of financial difficulties?

The results confirmed our theory. 49% of those polled said that the main cause of personal debt was overspending, while only 29% said that job loss and pay cuts were the culprits.

The reality of the situation is virtually an inverse of this. In 2010, 48% of our clients stated that a job loss or a pay cut was the main reason for their debt. In contrast overspending was only listed in 10% of cases.

The reality is that work issues are the main cause of personal debt in four times more cases than overspending. Alongside this, the perception of profligacy as the main cause of debt was five times higher than the reality.

The general public understates the actual reason for problem debt but also overstates the role extravagance takes.

Debt infographic

To visualise this difference we decided to design another of our successful infographics, which we present today: Do you know what causes bad debt. Take a look and share it with your friends via Twitter, Facebook or your favourite social bookmarking site. Blog about it and tell us in the comments below if you think it’s right or wrong.

We’re aware of some limitations of the data. The poll wasn’t scientific and the data we’ve collected isn’t independently verified. Our data also has a little bit of a bias; it’s collected from our clients not the general public.

However it still challenges the perception of debt and indicates that it’s less about being weak-willed and is more an unfortunate and accidental fact of life.

As I said at the start, what you think causes personal debt might be wrong.