Following Bank of England Governor Mervyn King’s announcement that the British economy is entering a recession, debt management company Gregory Pennington have warned that financial hardship is likely to be widespread in the coming months, adding that the public should aim to get their finances in order and tackle any debts as a matter of priority.
Speaking at a business conference on Tuesday, Mervyn King told business leaders that the economy faces a “sharp and prolonged slowdown”, perpetuated by smaller take home salaries, soaring living costs and limited access to consumer credit.
“We now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions,” he also said.
On a more positive note, King said that some of the factors causing inflation had “shifted decisively”, putting less pressure on the Bank of England to actively control inflation and instead giving them time to address other factors, particularly the cost of consumer lending.
And addressing those concerned about many lenders’ reluctance to pass on the Bank of England’s recent base rate cut, King offered his assurance that the cuts would eventually have an effect, but said: “It will take time before the [bank bailout] leads to a resumption of normal levels of lending.”
A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington warned of the dangers that consumers face as a recession approaches. “One of the biggest dangers is unemployment. Since there will be less money flowing through the economy, businesses will suffer, and many will be forced to make job cuts as a result – which restarts the same cycle.
“We may also see the availability of credit take a further hit, as lenders will be wary that the borrowers may be at a higher risk of losing their jobs than usual. However, the Bank of England are doing their best to ensure that cash flow within banks improves, so it remains to be seen how lenders will react to that as things progress.
“What we can be sure of is that it’s essential for the public to address any financial problems they may have, particularly when it comes to debt. Debt is a burden at any time, but carrying debts during such an uncertain time for the economy can be very worrying.
“If borrowers miss payments, the creditors may pursue the whole debts, which can lead to court action and even bankruptcy if they are unable to comply.”
The Gregory Pennington spokesperson said that there a number of debt solutions that could help people repay their debts and limit the pressure on their finances as the economy enters a recession.
“For people with multiple debts, a debt consolidation loan can help,” she said. “Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan to cover your existing debts, meaning you only have one creditor to repay.
“Payments can often be reduced by spreading them over a longer period, although you can pay more interest in the long run. Interest rates can also potentially be reduced, especially if you are consolidating high-APR debts such as credit cards – but be aware that if you have extended your repayment period, the additional interest incurred can reduce the benefit of a lower interest rate.
“For more unmanageable debts, a debt management plan may be your better option. If you do this through an expert debt adviser, they will assess how much you can realistically afford to repay each month. After that, they will negotiate with your creditors for lower monthly payments and possibly a freeze in interest or other charges.
“For more significant debts of £15,000 or more, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be more appropriate. This involves making monthly payments over a period of five years, based on how much you can afford. Once that five-year period is over, your remaining debts will be considered settled.
“However be aware that an IVA requires approval from creditors responsible for at least 75% of your debts, and you may be required to release some of the equity tied up in your home in the fourth year of your IVA.
“Before you make any decisions, it’s important to seek independent debt help. A debt adviser will talk you through your situation and will be able to establish which debt solution is right for you.”