Unemployment ‘could raise need for debt advice’

The need for advice and help on debt matters could soar to unprecedented levels if projections of unemployment rises in 2011 are correct, it has been …

The need for advice and help on debt matters could soar to unprecedented levels if projections of unemployment rises in 2011 are correct, it has been suggested.

Such a point was made by the Money Advice Trust and Nottingham University economist Dr John Gathergood, as the latter completed a study on the issue.

His report, entitled Demand, Capacity and Need for Debt Advice in the UK, was based on Office for National Statistics figures and information from debt advice providers.

It suggested if the rate of joblessness increases by two per cent in 2011 the demand for such aid will soar to record levels, even above that seen when the financial crisis was at its peak in 2008.

Despite this, one finding of the research was that the level of financial difficulty is much greater than the number seeking assistance would indicate, with only one in every six people suffering problems asking for help and advice.

Dr Gathergood said: “Despite demand for debt advice currently being at near all-time high levels in the UK, the scale of potential need for debt advice among households remains much greater than the level of advice currently sought.”

Chief executive of the Money Advice Trust Joanna Elson described tackling this issue as “a new challenge”.

Earlier this month, figures provided by Credit Action revealed UK personal debt now tops £1,452 billion, with figures for October showing an extra £1.3 billion was added to the total.

This amount is higher than Britain’s gross domestic product for one year and banks have been writing off £20 million a day of unpayable debt.

By Joe White

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