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Debt Advisers Direct

Credit Conditions And Debt Consolidation Options

Commenting on the Q3 2009 Credit Conditions Survey from the Bank of England, Debt Advisers Direct noted that the ongoing credit crunch was still restricting access to credit – and therefore to the debt consolidation loans that could help many people stay in better control of their finances. Nonetheless, the debt specialists stressed that there were other debt solutions available, and that borrowers struggling to clear their debts should talk to an expert adviser and explore their options.

“The latest Credit Conditions Survey revealed that UK lenders, on average, anticipate further reductions in unsecured credit over the final quarter of 2009,” said a spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct.

“As for secured credit, they expect ‘some increase’ in overall credit availability over the next three months – so they clearly don’t anticipate any changes that would really alter the state of the market at the moment.

“For many of the people currently ‘juggling’ multiple debts, this is a pity, as it means they can’t access the debt consolidation loan that could simplify their finances and reduce the monthly cost of servicing their debt.

“Equally important, debt consolidation loans can help people make their payments on time, avoiding the charges, legal problems and damage to their credit rating that can come with making payments late (or not at all). This isn’t ‘just’ because a debt consolidation loan can reduce the actual size of monthly payments. It can also make those payments far easier to organise and – perhaps more important – budget for, on a monthly basis.”

Even so, a debt consolidation loan is by no means the only approach to debt. In many cases, it’s not even the most appropriate one – people whose debts have become truly unmanageable should not even attempt to consolidate them with a loan, as this would be unlikely to make enough of a difference to their finances.

People who’ve lost control of their debts should discuss their situation with a professional debt adviser, who can take them through their alternatives and make sure they understand the pros and cons of every potential approach.

“For some,” the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson continued, “a debt management plan can be the best way forward. It’s an informal (not legally binding) agreement with their unsecured lenders, often arranged by a professional debt management company. The aim is to reduce the individual’s monthly repayments to a level they can afford – once they’ve taken their essential expenditure into account – giving them an affordable, realistic way to clear their unsecured debts without ‘eating into’ the funds they need to stay on top of their mortgage/rent, utility bills, food bills, etc.

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24% Of Students In The UK Expect To Graduate With Over £20,000 Of Debt

Responding to a report that found that 24% of students in the UK expect to graduate with over £20,000 of debt, Debt Advisers Direct has advised students that with the right financial planning, the amount of debt they take on can be reduced.

The company added that students should avoid taking on debt (i.e. any debt outside their regular student loan) wherever possible, as this could increase their risk of debt problems in the future.

Research by the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) looked into the financial expectations of UK students. It found that 24% thought they would leave university with more than £20,000 of debt – although the picture varied between countries.

In Scotland, Scottish-born students are not required to pay university tuition fees. This is reflected in the AIC’s figures: only 26% of Scottish students expected to take out a student loan, compared with 55% across the entire UK.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct commented: “Debt is a big concern for many students. The introduction of top-up fees in recent years has added a significant amount to the debt many students will be expected to repay once they graduate.

“However, it’s very important that we distinguish between student debt in terms of an official student loan, issued by the Student Loans Company (SLC), and other forms of debt.

“Government student loans are designed to be paid back once the student graduates and is earning enough to meet the threshold – currently £15,000 a year – and only as a small percentage of earnings above this amount. In that respect, a student loan is not likely to cause significant financial hardship.

“However, students who have borrowed money in other ways could find themselves in more difficulty. Things like personal loans and credit cards, for example, usually require regular repayments and tend to carry higher interest rates. This is not ideal for students, who usually survive on a relatively low income.

“The risk is that the more debt students take on, the more likely they are to have trouble meeting their repayments. For that reason, we advise students to steer clear of taking on additional debt wherever possible.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson added that while most students experience financial difficulties at one stage or another, there are other things they can do to improve their situation.

“There is plenty of advice available, both online and from expert financial advisers, on ways for people to manage their finances well. For example, we have just released a guide on ways to cut back without compromising their social life – which is particularly relevant to students.

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Debt Advisers Direct Have Underlined The Importance Of Seeking Debt Advice Before Financial Problems Reach The Stage Where They’re Insurmountable

“In the midst of a recession, professional debt advice has an even greater role to play than usual,” said Melanie Taylor, Head of Corporate Relations for Debt Advisers Direct. “With repossession and unemployment figures rising and many households living with the threat – or the actuality – of reduced income, people across the country are realising that once-manageable debts are suddenly taking up much more of their monthly budget. In many cases, the strain is simply too much.”

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The insolvency trade body R3 recently expressed its concern ‘that those with financial problems do not think they ‘need’ debt advice‘. Quoting from YouGov’s quarterly ‘DebtTracker’ of February 2009, R3 pointed out that only 37% those who had fallen behind with many bills or credit commitments had actually taken action and sought debt advice in the previous six months.

Of those who acknowledged that they were struggling with bills and commitments, a full 65% were of the opinion that they simply did not need advice about their financial problems.

“It’s alarming to see so many people in trouble and not looking for help,” Mrs Taylor continued. “Financial problems rarely resolve themselves unless the individual takes positive action. Clearly, many people are able to do so on their own, but while it’s good for people to have confidence in their skills, even the most financially capable people may find they benefit from the insights which someone who specialises in debt could supply.

“Particularly worrying is the thought of people who desperately need to look for debt advice but have yet to do so – either because they’ve not realised the severity of their financial problems or because they’re nervous about asking for help.

“Regarding the first of these two groups, we would like to stress the need for everyone to keep a close eye on their income and expenditure at all times – and this is especially important during challenging economic times when incomes are more likely to fluctuate and access to debt solutions such as debt consolidation or remortgagingmay be relatively restricted. One call to a debt adviser should help them gain some clarity on their situation, helping them understand exactly where they stand and what their options may be.

“Regarding the second group (those who acknowledge their financial problems but may be embarrassed about seeking help), we would like to make three specific points. First, that there are plenty of people in their situation; second, that debt advisers are there to help, not to judge; and third, that the solution to their debt problems could well be much simpler than they expect.

“Many people don’t want to face up to their debt problems because they dread hearing that bankruptcy, repossession, or some other ‘extreme’ scenario is the only way forward. In the vast majority of cases, however, these fears are unfounded. It’s true that there were 10,400 repossessions in the final three months of 2008, yet this only represents 1 in 1,100 mortgages – just as the 19,000 bankruptcies in that period represent an extremely small percentage of the people facing debt problems.

“Once they take the step and talk to a debt adviser, borrowers may be surprised to realise their lenders are willing to consider ways of repaying their debts in a way that’s actually quite manageable.

“Nonetheless, the earlier they seek debt advice, the more options they’ll probably have open to them. By taking action sooner rather than later, they’re likely to save themselves a great deal of time and worry, as well as money (in the form of fees, legal costs and interest charges).”

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The Importance of Keeping on Top of Mortgage Payments

Responding to the news that the number of homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments has risen by almost a third (31%) in the past year, debt consolidation company DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk has emphasised the importance of keeping on top of mortgage payments, adding that a mortgage should be the top priority for any homeowner.

The company added that borrowers who are having difficulty with their mortgage payments should seek expert debt help as soon as the problem emerges.

The latest figures from the FSA (Financial Services Authority) showed that there were 377,000 borrowers in arrears on their mortgages at the end of 2008 – up 10% in the final quarter alone, and 31% higher than the same period in 2007.

The figures refer to mortgage accounts in arrears by 1.5% or more of the borrowed balance, roughly equivalent to arrears of at least three months.

The figures mean that 3.4% of all mortgages were in arrears at the end of 2008, compared with 2.3% at the end of 2007. Meanwhile, new repossessions increased by 60% compared with the same time period in 2007.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said: “We would expect an increase in the number of homeowners falling behind on their mortgage debt in recent months, but these statistics show just how quickly it is occurring.

“Considering the economy is potentially about to enter a more severe stage of the recession, it’s very important that homeowners are careful with their finances and avoid falling behind on their debt repayments.

“In particular, a mortgage should be the number one priority for any homeowner. It is important that all debts are repaid on time, but a mortgage pays for the borrower’s home – and as such, failing to keep up on payments could eventually result in the home being repossessed.”

The spokesperson also said that if other debts are making it difficult to pay the mortgage, a professional debt adviser may be able to recommend a suitable debt solution that could make the borrower’s unsecured debts more manageable.

“There are few debt solutions that deal directly with mortgage repayments, although in some cases a debt adviser may be able to negotiate with mortgage lenders for a reduction in payments. However, a debt solution that deals with the borrower’s unsecured debts could reduce the homeowners monthly outgoings, and therefore make it easier for them to meet their mortgage payments.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson added that if the situation becomes more serious and the homeowner cannot see a way of repaying their debts in full, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) could help them avoid bankruptcy by paying off an agreed percentage of their debts, and therefore help them avoid losing their home.

“If the homeowner can agree a repayment plan for their mortgage arrears, then an IVA can be arranged around that, meaning both the homeowner’s mortgage and their unsecured debts are taken care of.”

However, the spokesperson was keen to emphasise the importance of speaking to a professional debt adviser before deciding on any debt solution.

“Different debt solutions are more appropriate for people in different situations, and equally they all have their drawbacks. An expert debt adviser can help to explain the pros and cons of each debt solution, to help the borrower in establishing which debt solution is best suited to their individual needs.”

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Tackling Unsecured Debt Can Prevent Repossession

Responding to the 2008 repossession and arrears statistics released by the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), debt specialists Debt Advisers Direct have stressed the relationship between unsecured debt and mortgage arrears.

“As the CML reports, there were 40,000 repossessions in 2008,” said a spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct, “and a further 219,000 mortgages ended the year more than three months in arrears.

“For many of those people, however, the problem lay not in the cost of their actual mortgage payments, but in the cost of servicing their unsecured debts. Charging significantly higher interest rates than mortgages, unsecured debts can easily ‘snowball’ to the point where borrowers simply can’t keep up with them – where their monthly payments barely suffice to pay off the accumulating interest.

“Unsecured debts can also be alarmingly easy to take on. Credit cards and store cards in particular allow significant levels of debt to accumulate gradually: people who would hesitate to take out a £2,000 loan can find they’ve acquired £2,000 of debt on a number of cards without even noticing it.”

This combination of high interest rates and ease of access has left many homeowners with unsecured monthly debt repayments that take up some or all of the funds they need to service their mortgage debt. Unless they take steps to address this, it can end up leading to repossession.

“There are ways of reducing the burden of their unsecured debts,” the spokesperson continued. “Many people successfully negotiate with their unsecured lenders – either on their own or through a professional debt management organisation – asking them to accept lower payments, freeze interest and/or waive charges, to ensure that servicing their unsecured debts doesn’t take up funds they need to stay on top of their mortgage payments.

Others find that their unsecured debts have passed the point where negotiation is a realistic option: “In 2008, some 106,000 people in England and Wales turned to insolvency (bankruptcy or an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement)) as the only realistic path out of debt – and experts such as KPMG believe this figure could easily grow by 50% this year.

“For the majority of homeowners, an IVA offers distinct benefits over bankruptcy. Like bankruptcy, an IVA lets them write off the debt they can’t afford to repay, and will have a severe impact on their credit rating. Unlike bankruptcy, however, it will allow them to retain ownership of their property.”

This is what makes it a particularly interesting option for homeowners who worry that their unsecured debts could end up costing them their home: “An IVA requires substantial commitment, as they will need to make regular payments towards their unsecured debt for five years, but those payments are designed to be affordable.

They will be calculated to take up the individual’s entire disposable income – the money they will have left after taking into account their essential monthly expenditure, such as food, petrol, utility bills and (most importantly) mortgage payments.

“So a homeowner in an IVA will be required to contribute all their disposable income to their IVA for a full five years, as well as releasing some equity halfway through the final year of the IVA to maximise the amount they can pay their unsecured creditors.

“However, they’ll know they’re protected from any legal action by their unsecured creditors – including attempts to make them bankrupt – and they’ll know their outstanding unsecured debts will be written off at the end of that period. Most important of all, they’ll know the budget they’re following is specifically designed to ensure their monthly mortgage payments will be met.”

“The important thing is to take action in time, as soon as their unsecured debts reach unmanageable levels. An IVA is a legal procedure that requires the approval of creditors who collectively ‘own’ 75% of the debt in question – in general, the sooner an individual speaks to an Insolvency Practitioner about an IVA, the better their chances of gaining that approval.”

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Debt Advisers Direct have responded to new figures showing that UK gas prices have increased at over four times the rate of the European average, emphasising the importance of good financial management

Responding to new figures suggesting that British energy bills are rising four times faster than those in Europe, Debt Advisers Direct have advised consumers to take extra care over their finances – particularly with regard to repaying debts – and have said that anyone who finds themselves struggling with their debts should seek expert debt advice as soon as the problem emerges.

The figures, compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), showed that energy prices have risen by 16.7% in Britain over the past year – over four times as much as the 3.8% average across Europe.

The OECD recorded a 1.3% rise in Denmark, 1.5% in Germany and 5.3% in Sweden. Of the developed nations studied, only Australia (20%) and Turkey (28.7%) experienced bigger price rises than the UK in the past year.

Energy companies have come under fire in recent months over their energy pricing –despite significant falls in the wholesale cost of gas and electricity, none of the major companies have cut their prices to consumers.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said: “The OECD’s report demonstrates the extent to which UK energy prices have risen compared with other nations. A lot of billpayers have felt unfairly treated by their energy providers in recent months, and this news may have many wondering why the companies haven’t acted to reduce their prices yet.

“Scottish Power have recently announced a 10% cut to one of their gas tariffs, and other companies are likely to follow suit – but this cut does not cancel out the two big price rises made by most companies last year.”

The spokesperson added that a large number of people are still struggling to meet their financial commitments as a result of rising prices in the past year, with many of those experiencing debt problems.

“A combination of rising bills, rising costs of living and shrinking incomes have left many people struggling with their finances,” she said. “Some of those costs are starting to come down, but that won’t necessarily help those already in debt.

“Our advice to anyone in debt is to seek expert debt advice early. Even if living costs do come down, debt can still be a big burden and it’s important to tackle it in the right way.

“For people who want to reduce their monthly outgoings and simplify their finances in order to make their bills and debts more manageable, a debt consolidation loan might be the answer. A debt consolidation loan involves the borrower taking out a new loan to pay off their existing debts – effectively consolidating the debts into one.

“Most people who take out a debt consolidation loan lower their debt repayments by spreading them out over a longer period of time. Although this incurs more interest in the long run, it’s possible to save money in interest overall if the borrower is consolidating debts with a higher APR than the new loan.

“For more serious debts, a debt management plan could help. This is an informal agreement between the borrower and their creditors as to how the borrower intends to repay their debts – usually at a slower rate than originally agreed, and there may also be a freeze on interest and other charges.

“Alternatively, if there is no real chance of ever repaying the full debts in a realistic period of time, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) may be the best option. An IVA is a legally-binding agreement between the borrower and their creditors for lower monthly payments, based on how much the borrower can afford.

”For an IVA to go ahead, creditors accounting for 75% of the total debt must approve the proposal. An IVA usually lasts for five years – and homeowners may be expected to release some of the equity in their homes in the 54th month of the IVA. On successful completion of the agreement, the remaining debts are considered settled.”

“Our advice to anyone unsure about how to tackle their debts is to speak to a debt adviser beforehand.”

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New Report Suggests That The Available Incomes Of Households Have Fallen Significantly Over The Past Year

Responding to a recent report suggesting that the average household had found it more difficult to repay their debts in 2008 than in the previous year, Debt Advisers Direct have warned consumers to take extra care with their finances. In financial terms, January can be a particularly difficult time, as many households find they’ve spent more than intended over the Christmas period – and Debt Advisers Direct have advised people struggling with debt to seek professional debt advice as soon as possible.

A new report for the Bank of England entitled ‘The financial position of British households’, carried out by NMG Research, is a snapshot of the financial situations of the average British household at the end of September and beginning of October.

The report claimed that the average household had found it more difficult to service existing debts than in the previous year, largely due to higher household bills which reduced ‘available’ incomes. It also said that the purchasing power of this available income had reduced due to high inflation.

More than half of the households in the survey had reported a fall in their monthly available income compared with the previous year.

In total, of those questioned:

• 31% reported a fall of more than £100 per month,
• 20% reported a fall of £51 to £100,
• 12% reported a fall of £1 to £50,
• 25% reported no change, and
• the remaining 12% reported an increase in ‘available’ income.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct commented: “It’s been known for some time that British households have been under pressure financially in the past year, but these figures demonstrate the extent of the problem. In particular, a drop in available income of more than £100 can make a significant difference to the ability of households to meet their commitments and repay debts.”

The fall in available income was particularly evident amongst homeowners. In both high-LTV and low-LTV categories, 39% of mortgagors reported a fall of more than £100, while a further 19% reported a fall of £51 to £100.

The report suggested that this may have been due to homeowners experiencing higher mortgage costs, especially those who came to the end of fixed-rate or discounted variable-rate mortgage deals.

“Due to rising mortgage costs earlier in the year, homeowners have been particularly
hard-pressed, although this situation may have eased since the figures were recorded due to base rate cuts and the subsequent lower mortgage rates,” the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson said.

“The implications for homeowners are potentially more serious, since homeowners stand to have their homes repossessed if they default on mortgage payments. Homeowners who are paying relatively high interest rates could improve their situations through remortgaging, although they should consider any costs involved.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson added that there are a number of debt solutions available that could help those who have experienced a fall in available income.

“For people with several debts who want to reduce their outgoings and simplify their
finances, a debt consolidation loan might be the best option,” she said. “By spreading the repayments out over a longer period of time than the original debts, monthly payments can be lower, which can make a big difference to available income. However, more will be paid in interest as a result of the longer repayment period.

“For those with more serious debts, particularly if the repayments exceed the household’s available income, a debt management plan could help. This involves working with a debt adviser to negotiate lower monthly payments based on how much they can afford. However, a debt management plan will normally require people to pay whatever available income they have left after payments to household expenses have been taken into account, so anyone entering a debt management plan should be fully committed to repaying their debts.”

For debt help and advice on a range of debt solutions, visit the Debt Advisers Direct website or call 0800 074 8639.

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Debt Advisers Direct remind consumers with debt problems of the importance of seeking debt advice early on, before their finances are further affected by the recession

Commenting on the nation’s economic troubles, Debt Advisers Direct stressed the importance of seeking debt advice in time, before debt problems can escalate out of control.

“Whatever the economic climate, it always makes sense to address debts at the first sign of trouble,” said a spokesperson for the company. “During times of economic uncertainty, it’s more important than ever.

“The problems in the housing market alone pose a significant threat to the livelihoods of people in all walks of life. What was initially seen as an issue for estate agents has grown to affect builders, movers, decorators, furniture stores and so on – after months of negative news from companies directly linked to the housing market, we’re now hearing of problems in a much wider range of industries.

“With so many either out of work or facing the possibility of unemployment, people are spending less and problems in the housing industry are spilling over into the high street, placing even more jobs at risk – at a time when new employment may be hard to find.

“Coping with a period of reduced income is never easy, but people with high levels of debt are far more likely to experience financial problems almost as soon as their income drops.

“This underlines the need to tackle debt problems sooner, rather than later. Many people with smaller debt problems may find a chat with a debt adviser could help them get on top of their finances without making any major lifestyle changes. Once the adviser understands their financial circumstances, they should be able to provide some budgeting advice and suggest practical ways of reducing their level of debt.

“When it comes to more serious financial problems, however, many people are put off by the sheer size of their debts. Someone who owes tens of thousands of pounds may not feel there’s anything they can do to make an appreciable ‘dent’ in their debts.”

In most cases this is unlikely to be true: “However much they owe, they may still have a range of options, depending on their circumstances. A debt consolidation mortgage, for example, could be right for someone who wants to reduce their monthly outgoings and simplify their finances, while an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) could help someone who literally can’t keep up with their debt repayments – and who can’t realistically expect to repay their debts in a reasonable timeframe.

“We were very pleased to see the emphasis which the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Report placed on debt advice – the Government is dedicating more than £15 million of additional funding to ensure people can access debt advice when they need it. Similarly, we were pleased to see certain credit card providers and mortgage lenders extending a ‘grace period’ to people who fall behind on their repayments.

“Even so, we remind borrowers how important it is to talk to a debt adviser before things reach the stage where they’re missing payments of any kind: taking steps to tackle their debt today is virtually certain to improve their chances of getting through the recession with their finances in a good state.”

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The latest report from the Insolvency Service shows a rapid rise in the numbers of people being declared insolvent

Commenting on statistics from the Insolvency Service showing a sharp rise in insolvencies, both over the last quarter and over the past year, Debt Advisers Direct have said that it is now more important than ever for people to get their finances in order and tackle any debt problems as soon as possible.

Commenting on new statistics showing an increase in the number of personal insolvencies in the third quarter of 2008, Debt Advisers Direct (www.debtadvisersdirect.co.uk) have said that this is further confirmation of the difficulties faced by many British households due to rising inflation and worsening economic conditions, and have emphasised the importance of good debt advice as the economy faces a recession.

The latest report from the Insolvency Service shows a rapid rise in the numbers of people being declared insolvent. Between July and September there were 27,087 personal insolvencies, an 8.8% increase on the previous quarter. It was also 4.6% higher than the number of insolvencies reported a year earlier.

Despite falling in the second quarter of the year, bankruptcies were up 12.1% over the quarter. IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements), meanwhile, were up 3.3% over the quarter.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said: “Higher costs of living and the credit crunch have put a lot of pressure on British households’ finances this year, so we expected to see a rise in personal insolvencies over the course of this year.

“However, the extent of the rise in insolvencies shows the seriousness of the problems we are facing – and highlights the need to tackle debt problems early, before they become unmanageable..”

The Insolvency Service report also showed that despite the quarterly rise, IVAs were down by 3.1% compared with the same period last year – with The Telegraph concluding that it may be becoming more difficult to enter into an IVA.

“There are a few possible reasons why the number of IVAs may be lower than this time last year,” the spokesperson commented. “It may simply be that more people are taking the bankruptcy route, perhaps because they are unaware that an IVA can avoid many of the downsides of bankruptcy.

“IVAs are usually considered a preferable alternative to bankruptcy. People on IVAs do not lose control of their assets, unlike bankruptcy, and they typically carry fewer restrictions.

“The rise in IVAs over the quarter shows that lenders still consider it a valid means of reclaiming some of the money they are owed – and it remains that if you are in significant debt, an IVA can be a very useful way of getting debt-free.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson was keen to emphasise the importance of tackling debts before they grow unmanageable. “For anyone struggling with debt, there are a number of ways out. With a recession approaching, it’s important that people do not feel powerless, and that they tackle the issue head-on.

“There are a number of debt solutions, such as debt consolidation and debt management plans, that can help people to stop their debts growing before they become unmanageable. We advise anyone with debt problems to seek professional advice at the first sign of trouble.”

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People In Debt Should Review Their Financial Situation As Soon As Possible And If Necessary Seek Professional Debt Advice

The deteriorating state of the economy should lead borrowers to review their finances as a matter of urgency, say debt experts Debt Advisers Direct, following the Autumn forecast from the Ernst & Young ITEM Club.

“Released on 20th October, the Ernst & Young ITEM Club Autumn forecast ‘sees an economy that has deteriorated dramatically in the last quarter and is now in recession’,” said a spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct. “The good news, however, is that the recession is expected to be both short and shallow, with GDP rising – even if only by 1% – in 2010.”

“Even so, the impact of today’s economic downturn will be profound,” the spokesperson continued. “By definition, even a ‘shallow’ recession involves a shrinking of the nation’s economy, with the inevitable consequences: lower spending, higher unemployment, greater uncertainty about the future, etc.

“On an individual level, the threat of a reduced monthly income is likely to lead many to review their financial situation. This isn’t to say that economic gloom is a good thing, but everyone needs to stop and take stock of their finances from time to time, and reports such as this can provide a much-needed incentive to do so.

“It’s important for everyone – even people with no debts and significant savings – but for the millions of UK consumers in debt, it’s particularly vital. Many people in the UK have grown used to spending more and more of their monthly budget on debt repayments. In many cases, those repayments take up almost their entire disposable income, so if anything happens to their income, they could almost immediately face a whole range of consequences, from legal action to bailiffs and County Court Judgments (CCJs) – to say nothing of the damage to their credit rating.

“The important thing, of course, is to take action before it’s too late. Seeking professional debt advice is normally the best way to start – any borrower could have a wide range of debt solutions available to them, so it’s vital they talk to a professional organisation which understands every option and can provide impartial debt advice, tailored to their individual circumstances.”

An Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or debt consolidation loan, for example, could help someone cope with a reduced income – yet neither debt solution would make sense for someone who’s fairly sure they might lose their income (or a significant part of it) in the near future.

“A borrower who is working, but whose job seems to be at risk, may be better off with a flexible debt solution such as a debt management plan: if their income drops, they can ask a professional debt management company to talk to their creditors on their behalf, renegotiating their debt repayments as and when it becomes necessary.”

Different borrowers, in other words, will need to adopt different strategies to deal with their debts. “There’s no ‘silver bullet’ for debt. Debt management plans, debt consolidation loans, debt consolidation remortgages, IVAs, even bankruptcy – each has its place, but the debt solution that’s right for one person can be completely inappropriate for another. The key thing is to take the time to get the right debt advice before making any commitments.”

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Debt Advisers Direct Warn Anyone Struggling With Debt To Seek Expert Debt Advice As Soon As Possible

Responding to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s report suggesting that the global economic slowdown is likely to worsen and spread to more economic sectors, Debt Advisers Direct have warned the public that extremely testing times may be ahead, and people should look to get their finances in order and clear any debts as soon as possible.

In their new Global Financial Stability Report, the IMF have warned of “growing turmoil”, saying that the state of the global economy has worsened since its last assessment in April 2008. They also said that Governments’ willingness to act would be crucial in “bringing about a return to stability in the international financial system”.

Although the global economic crisis has so far been mostly limited to the financial sectors in more developed economies, the IMF warned that may soon be about to change, with other sectors and developing economies likely to be affected in the future.

A note on the IMF press release said: “financial institutions in emerging markets, which until recently remained fairly resilient, will be confronted with a much more challenging economic environment: A combination of global credit tightening, and economic slowdown, which could accelerate a downturn in the domestic credit cycle in some countries. Those economies with greater reliance on short-term flows or with leveraged banking systems funded internationally are particularly vulnerable.”

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said that the threat of financial hardship applies to everybody – not just people on lower incomes or those already in debt.

“The nature of the economic crisis is that many peoples’ jobs are at risk, and that applies just as much to people earning high incomes as it does to low earners. At the same time, many costs of living such as food and energy are still on the rise, so most of us are likely to feel the squeeze to some extent.

“For that reason it’s essential that anyone who is currently struggling financially, particularly those struggling with debt, seeks the relevant advice as soon as possible.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson added that there are a range of debt solutions available to help people in various financial situations. “For those with a number of debts, a debt consolidation loan could be the answer,” he said.

Debt consolidation involves grouping all of your debts into convenient single monthly payments. It can also reduce interest rates if you are consolidating high-APR forms of credit such as credit cards, and it can allow you to reschedule your payments over a longer period, making your monthly payments lower. However, this may result in paying more interest in the long term.

“Alternatively, for those who want a less formal debt solution, a debt management plan can reduce your monthly payments to an amount you can afford, as well as freezing interest and other charges.

“Or for people with debts of over £15,000, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) is an alternative to bankruptcy which could help you keep your home and other assets.”

The spokesperson added: “Above all, it’s very important that anyone struggling with their debts seeks the appropriate advice immediately, because it’s very possible that things are going to get even tighter in the coming months.”

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Debtadvisersdirect.co.uk Remind Borrowers That An IVA Can Represent A Straightforward, Reliable Solution To Their Financial Problems

In response to economic data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), debt experts DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk remind consumers that the right debt solution can help them regain control of their debts, despite the unpredictability of the UK’s finances.

On 30 September, the ONS confirmed that GDP growth (Gross Domestic Product – a measure of economic activity) had been 0.0% in the second quarter of 2008, down from the 0.3% reported for the first quarter.

In other words, although the UK economy isn’t in recession (usually defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth), nor is it experiencing growth – the usual state of affairs under ‘normal’ circumstances. More worrying yet, the economy would have to decline only slightly for the remaining six months of the year to be officially classed as ‘in recession’.

“It may be hard for people to see such macro-economic statistics as relevant to them as individuals,” stated a spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct, “but the impact is all too likely to make itself felt in the average UK citizen’s daily life. In general, a slowing economy means everyone has less money: not just employees and employers, but the government itself. Given the rapid rises we’ve seen in the cost of living, any threat to a household’s income should be taken extremely seriously.

“People with high levels of debt, struggling to keep up with their debt repayments, are particularly likely to worry about the effects of a slowing economy. There may be little they can do to influence their utility bills, the price of food, or even their job security, but there may be something they can do about their debts – whatever debts an individual is facing, if they become unmanageable, there are a range of debt solutions available that could help reduce their payments and bring their debts under control.”

For people with unsecured debts of around £15,000 or more, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) may be the most appropriate debt solution. An alternative to bankruptcy, an IVA is a form of insolvency that helps people bring their monthly debt repayments back down to an affordable level and – in the longer term – clear those debts entirely.

“An IVA is a legally binding agreement between an individual and their creditors. In brief, the individual agrees to make fixed monthly payments for a set period (normally five years), based on what they can afford to pay after taking essential living expenses into account. If they own their home, they may also be required to free up equity in their home (towards the end of the IVA) to increase the amount they can pay their creditors.

“It’s a big commitment, but their creditors will, in return, agree to freeze interest, not to take any legal action (such as pushing for bankruptcy) and to write off any outstanding debt once the IVA has successfully concluded. So an IVA can deliver clear benefits to borrowers and creditors alike.

“Finally, should the borrower’s circumstances change during the course of the IVA, they can request an ‘IVA variation’ – it’s in the creditors’ interests as well as the individual’s to make sure the IVA succeeds, so they may well agree to alter the terms of the agreement if this is clearly the best way to bring the IVA to a successful conclusion.”

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Debt Advisers Direct Have Emphasised The Importance Of Joining A Pension Scheme As A Means Of Securing An Income And Staying Out Of Debt When It Comes To Retirement

Responding to a recent report regarding the growing pensions divide in the UK, Debt Advisers Direct (http://www.debtadvisersdirect.co.uk) advised workers to ensure they are planning well financially for the future, and warned anyone approaching retirement with debts to take action as soon as possible.

The report from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed a growing gap in pensions contributions between the public and private sectors. Private sector membership of final-salary pension schemes – in which companies pay a percentage of the employee’s final salary throughout retirement – fell from 3 million in 2006 to 2.7 million in 2007.

Instead, many private sector employers are opting for money purchase schemes, in which workers pay into a retirement fund which is usually invested in the stock market. When the employee retires, the fund is used to buy an annuity – a financial product that provides an income for the rest of their life. The size of the pension depends on how well the retirement fund performs and on the annuity rates available at retirement.

The public sector, on the other hand, showed a rise from 5.1 million to 5.2 million members of final-salary pension schemes last year.

The statistics highlight a clear difference between the two types of pension. The ONS report shows that on final-salary schemes, workers paid an average of 4.9 per cent and employers 15.6 per cent of the worker’s salary in the last year. For money purchase schemes, workers paid an average of 2.7 per cent and employers 6.5 per cent.

Many experts agree that workers should save at least 10% per cent of their total income to ensure an adequate income throughout retirement.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said: “The findings highlight two important things: firstly, the need for workers to save adequately for their future, and secondly, the importance of being on the right pension scheme.

“The statistics show that final-salary schemes contribute over 20 per cent of the worker’s salary, whereas money purchase schemes contribute just over 9 per cent. It’s better than having no pension at all, but workers should consider whether a money purchase scheme will cover them fully for retirement.

“Most people do not usually associate retirement with debt, but in fact statistics show that increasing numbers of people are now retiring with debts to their name, or falling into debt because their pension doesn’t cover their outgoings.

“Our advice to people with debt problems is to seek expert debt advice as soon as possible, before they get too close to retirement age. There may a number of debt solutions that could help them clear their debts, and in general, the sooner they act, the more options they’ll have – as they approach retirement age, they may find they simply no longer have access to certain debt solutions.”

As long as the individual acts in time, a debt management plan or debt consolidationloan could simplify their finances and reduce their monthly outgoings by spreading out debt repayments over a longer period of time (although, in general, the longer the repayment terms, the more they are likely to pay in interest).

For people with debts of around £15,000 or more, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) may be more suitable. An IVA is a legally-binding agreement between an individual and their creditors, in which they repay only what they can afford over a period of (normally) five years. Once the IVA is successfully completed, the remaining debt is written off.

Lasting for a specified time period, an IVA can be a particularly suitable debt solution for people approaching a deadline such as retirement. However, IVAs do represent a substantial financial commitment and can require homeowners to free up some equity. As with any debt solution, an IVA should never be entered into until the borrower has discussed all the alternatives – and the pros and cons of each – with a professional debt adviser.

Debtadvisersdirect.co.uk helps people with financial difficulties, providing free advice and tailor-made debt solutions.

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It`s Important Than Ever That Consumers Consider Their Options Before Taking Out Any New Credit, Say Debt Consolidation Experts Debtadvisersdirect.Co.Uk

Commenting on recent changes to the credit market, debt consolidation experts DebtAdvisersDirect.com reminded consumers in debt of the need to think carefully about the lending options open to them. In particular, they stressed the importance of calculating the long-term impact, not just the short-term appeal, of various types of credit on offer.

“As with any financial issue,” a DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk spokesperson remarked, “it’s imperative to research the different options thoroughly before making any firm decisions. The pros and cons of each debt solution might not be immediately obvious, so it’s highly inadvisable for anyone to commit themselves without consulting an expert beforehand.”

In recent history, the availability of credit has led many to see debt consolidation loans as a good way of regaining control of their finances. However, the credit crunch has – by definition – restricted the number of ways in which consumers can consolidate their debts.

A recent press release by comparison site uSwitch provides some figures: over the last year, the overall amount issued in unsecured loans has dropped by £283 million per quarter, while gross credit card lending has grown by an average of £179 million per quarter.

“This is a disturbing trend,” the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson continued. “People clearly need access to credit, whether they’re using it to consolidate their debts or to finance new projects and purchases. Yet the way in which they access that credit can make an enormous difference to their financial stability.

“One reason people turn to their credit cards is the sheer simplicity – rather than arranging a new loan, they can simply access the credit that’s already available on their credit card. However, the high interest rates that come with some cards can rapidly turn relatively small debts into much larger ones.

“At the same time, the low monthly repayments that most credit cards require (another factor which might add to the perceived desirability of borrowing in this way) can also have a dramatic impact on a borrower’s long-term finances – any online calculator can easily demonstrate the advantages of repaying a debt as fast as realistically possible, whether it’s a credit card debt, a debt consolidation loan, or any other kind of credit.”

In the uSwitch press release, Simeon Linstead, head of personal finance at uSwitch.com, stated “…it seems consumers are turning to credit card providers for extra cash. Whilst it’s good news that people can still access extra money if they need it, this is not a sustainable solution for the problem.”

For many, a professional debt consolidation loan would be a much more appropriate way to bring their finances in order. Often coming with much lower interest rates than credit cards, loans can also offer the peace of mind that comes with fixed monthly payments over a specified repayment term.

“Even in the midst of the credit crunch,” the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson concluded, “debt consolidation loans are still very much available. Whatever their debt problems, many borrowers still stand a good chance of getting the debt consolidation loan they need – as long as they approach a lender who specialises in helping people in their situation.”

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The Government’s ‘Energy Package’ May Help Some People Stay Warm This Winter, But It Is Not Enough To Address The Immediate Financial Problems Caused By High Energy Prices

Responding to the government’s ‘£1 billion energy package’, debt consolidation experts Debt Advisers Direct reminded consumers of recent comments by leading charities Help the Aged and the National Housing Federation.

Despite enabling households ‘to take advantage of help that could save them over £300 every year on their energy bills’, the package met with a lukewarm reception: “Individual changes which have been flagged by the Prime Minister are sensible and move in the right direction,” said Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser at Help the Aged. “However, they are too little, too modest and will take too long to address the urgent plight of many pensioners today.”

The energy package includes:
· Free loft and cavity wall insulation for some; half-price insulation for others.
· Increased Cold Weather Payments (paid during particularly cold periods) from £8.50 to £25 per week.
· An increased Winter Fuel Payment (either £50 or £100 more).
· Potentially discounted tariffs by the end of the year for ‘around 600,000’ customers, many of whom will have a price freeze this winter

“The measures announced by Gordon Brown may provide some help, but must be seen in context,” a spokesperson for DebtAdvisersdirect.com commented. “The average annual energy bill is widely expected to be more than £1,400 next year – more than twice what it was in 2005. While everyone appreciates the importance of long-term improvements to energy efficiency, recent price increases of up to 35% have left many with immediate financial problems.”

To quote from The Press Association website: ‘Soaring energy bills will push one in 10 households into debt with their fuel supplier by the end of next year, experts have warned. The National Housing Federation said hikes in the cost of gas and electricity would force many low-income families to have to choose between heating their homes or eating this winter.’

The right debt solution, however, could help borrowers afford both. “Part of the problem today is the sheer number of price rises we’ve seen in the past year,” said theDebtAdvisersDirect.com spokesperson. “Not just energy prices, but others such as food, rent and petrol.”

“People with credit commitments can be hit particularly hard by this – even after they’ve paid their rent / mortgage, food, fuel, etc, they still need to find the money to service their ongoing unsecured debt repayments. In many cases, this is simply impossible, and reducing those monthly debt payments is the only way forward. This is where debt consolidation can make a big difference.”

debt consolidation loan is a simple idea. By consolidating multiple unsecured debts into a single, large debt, borrowers can reduce the amount they’re paying each month: “Their monthly repayments may have seemed reasonable when they first took out credit, but the recent increases in basic living costs have dramatically reduced the average consumer’s disposable income.”

Debt consolidation gives borrowers a chance to re-assess their finances and the speed at which they can pay off their debt by calculating how much they can afford to put towards their debts in today’s economic environment. “As with any debt solution, a debt consolidation loan comes with both pros and cons, so it’s vital to seek professional debt advice before making a decision.”

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Debt Advisers Direct Reminds Consumers That There Is Still Plenty They Can Do To Help Protect Themselves Against Rising Household Costs

As the Government prepare to announce a new scheme that is set to help the millions of households that have fallen into fuel poverty, Debt Advisers Direct (www.debtadvisersdirect.co.uk) have welcomed the scheme, but have reminded consumers that there is still plenty they can do to help protect themselves against rising costs.

Fuel poverty is usually defined as when households are spending more than 10% of their total monthly income on keeping their homes adequately heated. In early 2008 it was estimated that around 4.4 million households in the UK were living in fuel poverty.

And with energy costs jumping up by as much as 30% with some providers, and with others set to follow, the threat of fuel poverty is increasing.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct said: “The rate at which energy prices are rising means that even families who would have previously considered themselves financially comfortable are beginning to feel the strain. Making compromises on other costs has become commonplace.

“Switching providers can help to bring costs down to an extent, but it might not be long before all providers raise their prices, which could mean sacrifices in other areas are needed.

“Ideally, consumers should be trying to put at least a small amount of money aside in a savings account every month. If prices shoot up unexpectedly, savings could be a very helpful financial safety net that could prevent people falling into debt.”

The spokesperson said that the worst hit are lower-income families, who might not have the extra funds available for rising fuel costs. “For those on lower incomes, fuel poverty is a particularly serious matter. There is a choice: turn the heating off, or keep yourself warm and suffer the consequences. We have seen large numbers of people being pushed into debt because of energy costs.”

The spokesperson followed that if consumers do find themselves struggling to balance debts with increasing costs of living, it’s essential that they seek debt advice before the problem grows out of control. “There are a number of debt solutions that are designed to reduce monthly outgoings and simplify finances, which could be a great help in these difficult times.

“It could be a debt management plan, in which a debt adviser works with the owner of the debts and their creditors to work out a new repayment plan, usually resulting in lower monthly payments over a longer period of time.

“For some people, a debt consolidation loan is more effective – a new loan is taken out to pay off the existing debts, after which it is repaid in single monthly payments. Debt consolidation loans can also be set out over a longer period of time, so monthly payments will be lower, although the borrower will usually end up paying more in interest in the long run.”

For more serious debts of £15,000 or over, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) may be more suitable. If you are in debt but are unsure about how to tackle it, contact a debt adviser for further information.

Debt Advisers Direct are a debt management company based in Salford Quays, Manchester. They offer a range of debt advice and solutions, including debt consolidation, debt management plans and IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements).

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Debt Solutions Company Debt Advisers Direct Have Warned That There May Be Tougher Times Ahead, And Advise People To Make Sure They Are Protected

Responding to the news that average bank balances are down by 5% compared to last year, a spokesperson for debt solutions company Debt Advisers Direct said that this is a clear sign that the credit crunch and fast-rising inflation is starting to truly affect consumers.

HSBC reported that average balances of its 8.2million customer accounts had fallen by 5% in the first six months of 2008, as rising costs of living and inflation at a 16-year high puts increasing pressure on consumers’ disposable incomes.

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson commented: “This is one of the first clear signs that people are feeling the pressure of the credit crunch, even if 5% is a relatively small figure.

“It’s been said many times that the impact of the credit crunch would take a while to filter through, and it would appear that time has come. Prices and living costs have reached the point where they are beginning to have a clear effect on bank balances – and that should be taken as a warning that it’s time to act.”

The spokesperson continued that while many people may not feel they have been significantly affected by inflation just yet, many leading economists have suggested the worst is yet to come.

“Economists have been predicting a more severe downturn for some time, and while that hasn’t happened yet, there are clear signs that the economy as a whole is slowing down,” he said. “This is likely to lead to further cuts in disposable incomes, especially with the sharp rises in gas and electricity prices due to come in shortly.”

HSBC had also suggested that some of the reduction in disposable incomes might be due to more people transferring money into savings accounts. In reaction to this, the Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson commented: “It would be reassuring to think that a large part of the lower disposable incomes is due to savings – and some of it probably is – but research suggests that most people do not save enough money for their future.

“Saving will become increasingly important in the next few months. Just a few hundred pounds put aside can be a useful financial buffer when money gets really tight.

“Of course, there are some people whose income simply does not stretch far enough once all their living costs are taken into consideration – particularly people struggling with debt – and those people are most at risk.”

The spokesperson added that for anyone who finds themselves struggling with debt, or thinks they might be about to, it’s essential that they seek professional debt advice as soon as possible.

“There are several solutions out there for people who find themselves struggling with debt,” he said. “For people with multiple debts who are getting by but want to simplify their finances, a debt consolidation loan could help.

“Debt consolidation loans involve combining all your existing debts into one, meaning you pay only one lender instead of many, and you may be able to reduce your monthly payments this way. However, you are likely to pay more in the long run if you do reschedule payments.

Debt consolidation is a good way of freeing up extra funds each month – which could be crucial if the economy does hit hard times.”

He continued that even for those with unmanageable debt problems, there is help available. “For more severe debts, a debt management plan or an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be more suitable. Both can reduce your monthly payments in line with what you can afford.

“Before making any decisions, though, you should always contact an expert debt adviser. They will talk you through your situation and decide which debt solution is appropriate for you.”

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Despite The Reduced Availability Of Credit, A Debt Consolidation Loan May Still Be A Viable Option For Worried Borrowers

Amid worries about the reduced availability of credit, debt consolidation experts DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk stress that lenders are still offering debt consolidation loans and other forms of credit.

A spokesperson commented: “With inflation more than twice the Bank of England’s target, people in debt are particularly worried about stretching their household budget further and further, especially when talk of an economic slowdown is threatening to reduce many consumers’ income levels as well. When there simply isn’t enough money in the monthly budget, a debt consolidation loan or other debt solution could take the pressure off.

“In recent years, the easy availability of credit has led many people to turn to debt consolidation loans as a way of reducing both their monthly debt repayments and the complexity of their finances. So the Bank of England’s Q2 2008 Credit Conditions Survey makes disturbing reading.”

The Survey provides a summary of what ‘bank and non-bank’ lenders have seen over the past three months, and what they expect for the coming three months. It reveals that lenders had reduced the availability of both secured and unsecured credit to individuals and expected ‘some additional reductions in credit availability over the next three months’.

“The key word here is ‘reduced’,” the spokesperson continued. “The Survey shows that the availability of secured credit, for example, was down around 45% in Q2, with lenders tightening credit scoring criteria and decreasing maximum LTV (loan to value) ratios. Although it’s a significant reduction, it does not mean credit is unavailable. As long as they have sufficient equity in their home – and as long as they approach a lender who specialises in helping people in their situation – many people still stand an excellent chance of obtaining a secured debt consolidation loan.”

Looking ahead, however, lenders do anticipate a further reduction in the availability of secured credit. Even though they expect Q3’s reduction to be smaller (just over 20%), the cumulative effect could well make it harder for certain people to access the debt consolidation loans they need in the months ahead.

Where debt consolidation isn’t an option, alternative debt solutions may still be available. Debt management, for example, can be an effective way for someone in debt to bring their expenditure back in line with their budget without accessing any further credit. “When someone joins a debt management plan, they essentially ask debt specialists to renegotiate their repayment terms. This can bring their monthly debt repayments down to an affordable level, freeing up the funds they need to cope with the rising cost of living.”

Should debt management not be appropriate, an individual may still be eligible for an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement), a legally binding agreement with their creditors. “In an IVA, the individual agrees to make fixed monthly payments, based on what they can afford after essential living expenses, for the duration of the IVA – normally five years. If 75% of the creditors (by debt value) consent to the terms of the IVA, they’ll agree not to take any legal action against the individual, and to write off any remaining debt once the IVA has successfully concluded.”

Whatever an individual’s circumstances, the spokesperson stressed, their first move should be to contact a debt specialist as soon as possible: “In the vast majority of cases, debt problems only get worse when they’re ignored. The important thing is to seek professional debt advice as soon as you realise you have a potential problem.”

About Debt Advisers Direct
http://debtadvisersdirect.co.uk helps people with financial difficulties, providing debt advice and tailor-made debt solutions.

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Ivas Don’t Address Mortgages And Other Secured Debts But They Do Reduce Payments To Unsecured Creditors

Commenting on the rising number of home repossessions, debt consolidation experts DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk point out that IVAs (Individual Voluntary Arrangements) and other debt solutions could help people stay in their homes.

Of the 45,000 repossessions expected by Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) in 2008, there were 18,900 in the first half of the year. In the second half, therefore, the CML expects a further 26,000 or so.

“As with any statistical forecast, this figure isn’t written in stone,” said a DebtAdvisersDirect.co.uk spokesperson. “Times are particularly tough for homeowners, but many people threatened with repossession may be able to resolve their situation by talking to their lender, and by taking steps to sort out their finances and free up enough money for their mortgage payments.

“Different homeowners will, of course, need to adopt different tactics to avoid repossession. Some may just need to reduce their spending, while others may need to consider taking in a lodger, for example, or working longer hours.

“But for many, the problem is unmanageable debt. Many people can’t afford their mortgage payments because their non-priority debts are taking up so much of their budget. We would advise anyone in that situation to seek debt help immediately. A professional debt adviser can help them go through their finances and figure out what steps they would need to take to free up the necessary funds.”

Often, those funds are already there: “Very few people know exactly where all their income goes. They may know where they spend large sums of money, but the smaller sums can easily slip through the cracks – and they all add up. This is why so many people find they have enough ‘on paper’, but not in reality. A debt adviser can help them create a monthly budget sheet and track their spending more effectively.”

Some homeowners, however, are facing more serious debt problems. “At a certain point, the monthly debt repayments simply exceed the individual’s ability to keep up – there just isn’t enough money coming in to service the debts and cope with the ongoing bills. Once this happens, they find it’s almost impossible to pull themselves out of debt without professional help. The important thing is to get in touch with a debt specialist as soon as possible, and find out what they can do to help.

“Depending on the individual’s circumstances, the best debt solution could be an IVA. As a form of insolvency that helps people clear significant debts without resorting to bankruptcy, an IVA can be an effective way of reducing their monthly expenditure, freeing up the money they need to make their mortgage payments and start paying off any arrears that have built up.”

An IVA is a legally binding agreement between an individual and their unsecured creditors, which normally lasts for five years. “The individual commits to making fixed monthly payments throughout the IVA, based on what they can afford after taking their essential living expenses (including mortgage payments) into account. If enough of the creditors agree to the terms, they’ll agree to freeze interest, not to take any legal action, and to write off any outstanding debt at the end of the IVA. Like bankruptcy, an IVA helps borrowers make a fresh start, but unlike bankruptcy, it helps them protect their home – they may have to release some equity, but it’s extremely unlikely they would have to sell.”

Yet it’s important to recognise that IVAs are not an appropriate solution to every homeowner’s problems. “Whatever financial issues an individual may be facing,” the spokesperson concluded, “it’s vital they seek debt advice from a specialist offering a range of debt solutions – someone who can help them take stock of their situation, understand their options and identify the best way forward.”

About Debt Advisers Direct
www.debtadvisersdirect.co.uk helps people with financial difficulties, providing debt help & advice and tailor-made debt solutions.

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Debt Advisers Direct Have Advised The Public To Keep A Close Watch On Their Finances, And To Seek Expert Debt Advice

Responding to recent research suggesting that the number of people who feel they are still managing well in the current economic climate has fallen, Debt Advisers Direct have advised the public to keep a close watch on their finances, and to seek expert debt advice immediately if they are unable to meet their financial commitments.

Mintel, a leading market research company, have revealed that the number of people who see themselves as living comfortably or managing easily has fallen from almost two thirds (64%) in 2006 to just over half (51%) this year, as rising costs of living and the credit crunch put increasing pressure on peoples’ finances.

The research also reveals a leap in those who feel money is tight, despite getting by financially – this figure rising from just one in four (25%) in 2006 to 39% this year.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct commented: “The fact that increasing numbers of people are feeling the pinch is to be expected, but these figures give an interesting picture of how people are actually coping with it at this time.

“What’s interesting is that 51% of people still feel they are managing easily, which may seem a high figure to some, considering all the stories in the news at the moment,” she continues. “But it’s telling that the figure has fallen so sharply since 2006, which was a relatively good time for the economy.”

The spokesperson went on to explain that the reported fall in confidence could be the first stage of a more significant downturn. “When the economy gets into trouble, the effects can take a while to filter through. Many people are still managing well following the buoyant economy of 2006 to late 2007,” she says. “But as the problems begin to filter through – for example to homeowners struggling to sell their homes, consumers facing higher food prices and bills, etc. – we may well see more people’s circumstances take a turn for the worse.”

The report coincides with Nationwide Building Society’s latest Consumer Confidence Index, which reveals that consumer confidence has taken a further fall, down 18% since July and down 43% since this time last year.

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson said: “Consumer confidence can be affected by things like the media portrayal of the economy, but a large part of it does come down to personal situations.

“Even those who have not been terribly affected by the credit crunch will have noticed how quickly the price of food and household costs are rising. And those people are quite right to be concerned about what the future may hold.

“We would advise everyone to keep a close watch on their finances at this time. Budget well, don’t overspend, and try to save where possible. And if you do think you are getting into trouble with debt, seek expert help from a debt adviser.

“A debt adviser will talk you through your situation and help you to decide the best course of action. For example, if you have a number of debts that you are struggling to balance with your household commitments, a debt consolidation loan could help.

Debt consolidation loans work by grouping all your debts together, so you only repay one creditor instead of many,” she says. “Payments can be rescheduled over a longer period of time than the original debts, meaning payments are lower – which could be a useful way of freeing up extra money for your other living costs. But be aware that rescheduling your debt consolidation loan will probably involve paying more in interest in the long run.

“If you find you simply can’t meet your payments, though, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) or debt management plan might be more suitable. If you’re unsure, as with any debt solution, speak to a debt adviser first.”

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