Money Matters: Dealing with debt

Christmas 2023 may be a distant memory for most but the financial fallout of it is still impacting households across the region. Greg Potter, Head of Member Experience at Leeds Credit Union, takes a look at what advice and support is available to anyone who fell into debt over the festive period.

According to pre-December 25th figures from debt charity StepChange, around four million Brits were expected to turn to credit to help them cover the cost of last Christmas, leading to warnings that around 20% of those borrowers would still be making repayments more than a year later.

So if you’re one of them, what can you do about it?

Acknowledge the problem

It is possible to spot the signs of impending financial difficulties and stop them before they become a serious issue.
Read the following statements and see if any apply to you. If they do, this may be an indication that you have debt issues and should actively seek help and advice to help you manage them.

  • I can’t put a figure on how much I owe
  • I rely on credit to cover my living costs
  • The amount I owe is rising
  • I’ve been contacted by a debt collection agency
  • I’m making minimum payments
  • There are arguments in my house about money
  • I sometimes hide purchases from my partner
  • My credit cards are near the limit
  • I have no savings left
  • I skip paying bills some months or pay them late
  • I’ve started to use payday loans
  • My debt worries interfere with my job and/or home life
  • I can’t sleep because I’m worry about my finances
  • I haven’t got any emergency savings
  • I don’t open my bills when they arrive

Access debt advice and support

If you think you would benefit from help and advice, there are several organisations that can help.
Citizens Advice has lots of information on its website, with advice on everything from dealing with urgent debts and/or arrears to reducing your outgoings. Go to www. to find out more.

MoneySavingExpert also has a wealth of information about debt problems and the help that is available on its website at: www.moneysavingexpert .com/loans/debt-help-plan

Closer to home, some credit unions work with housing associations to help tenants who are struggling to budget their money and pay their bills. They can help arrange affordable payment plans to cover arrears and look at switching providers if cheaper alternatives are available.

Apply for a debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation loans are affordable loans that an individual takes out to pay off their existing debts, including credit cards, overdrafts, store cards or personal loans.

The individual uses the money from the loan to pay off the people or companies to whom they are in debt, then repays the loan in monthly instalments.

Taking out a debt consolidation loan is an effective way of taking back control of your finances as it allows you to immediately pay off all your debts and leaves you responsible for just one repayment each month, making it easier to remember the repayments, budget accordingly and manage your money.

Debt consolidation loans can also lower your monthly repayment amount, reducing your outgoings.


Leeds Credit Union provides straightforward and affordable financial services to people in Leeds.

Photo: Shutterstock


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