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debt management

Debt Management Could Help Borrowers Approaching Retirement

Responding to new research suggesting that more than half of over-50s in Britain carry non-mortgage debt, debt management company Gregory Pennington has warned of the risks of carrying debt while approaching retirement, adding that good debt management is essential for anyone with problem debts.

Debt Management

Research from Moneysupermarket.com found that more than half (51%) of Britain’s over-50s population hold non-mortgage debt, at an average of £6,734.

Over the past 12 months, 17% of over-50s in debt have reduced their non-mortgage debt, according to the research, but 22% have taken on more debt in this time. 5% said their debt had increased “a lot”.

48% of over-50s whose debt had increased said they had gone further into debt in order to pay bills. 15% of those in debt said they believed debt would always be part of their life.

However, 48% of over-50s had reduced their outstanding borrowings over the past year, with 21% claiming to be in a lot less debt than they were a year previously.

Tim Moss, head of loans and debt at moneysupermarket.com, said: “… It’s encouraging to see that a good number of Brits aged over 50 are taking active steps to reduce the amount they owe.

“However, the fact that half of the people in this age group are still in debt above and beyond their mortgages is alarming. Those aged over 50 have to factor how long they can continue earning, and begin thinking seriously about their finances in retirement; debts that are currently easy to service could become a millstone round their neck in later retirement years.”

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said that trying to pay down debt in the run-up to retirement could affect the borrower’s ability to save adequately for retirement.

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Debt Levels Amongst Pensioners Are Increasing

Responding to a new report claiming that debt levels amongst pensioners are increasing, debt management company Gregory Pennington said that finding the right debt solution is important for anyone struggling with debt, regardless of age.

The company added that in particular, anyone approaching retirement age with debts that they may not be able to repay in time should contact a professional debt adviser to discuss the best way to clear their debts.

The research by pensions and investment provider Scottish Widows found that around 34% of retired people have ‘non-mortgage’ debts, such as credit cards and personal loans, with each owing an average of £7,344.

The figure is 9% higher than at the same point last year, and almost 25% higher than it was in 2007, suggesting that the problem has become no easier for pensioners as the economic downturn has progressed.

Meanwhile, the research found that almost one in six (15% of) retired people in the UK are still repaying their mortgage, with an average remaining debt of £50,100 – £8,000 higher than 2008’s figure.

In total, Scottish Widows claimed that pensioners owed a collective £90.4 billion – up from £72.3 billion last year.

Ian Naismith, Head of Pensions Market Development at Scottish Widows, said: “The situation for retirees in debt is not getting any better, and an increase of eight thousand in the average amount of mortgage debt is alarming.

“The recession has seemingly done nothing to encourage retirees to cut their debt, and with the possibility of the value of their property dwindling, they could be leaving themselves in a vulnerable position.

“Those in retirement should be able to enjoy life and not worry about the financial burden of debt, as well as their retirement income.”

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said: “Some people might assume that debt is a ‘young person’s problem’, but in a difficult economic climate we are all at risk. Pensioners, who often live on a much lower income than they did while they were working, can be particularly vulnerable.

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IVAs: Help Avoiding Repossession

Responding to the latest figures from the CML (Council of Mortgage Lenders), debt management company Gregory Pennington has stressed the role which debt solutions addressing unsecured debt can play in helping people avoid repossession.


Released on May 15th, the CML’s figures show that 12,800 repossessions were carried out by first-charge mortgage lenders in the first quarter of 2009. “Compared with many predictions, these figures are relatively low,” said a spokesperson for Gregory Pennington. “Indeed, the CML itself has used the word ‘pessimistic’ in reference to its own estimate of 75,000 repossessions throughout 2009, and has recently revised this figure downwards to 65,000.

“It’s good to see lenders and borrowers working together to keep the figure as low as possible, but it’s important not to become complacent. There were still around 23% more repossessions in Q1 2009 than in the previous quarter – and 50% more than we saw in Q1 last year.

“Looking ahead, the repossession figures for the rest of 2009 are by no means set in stone. They depend not just on the state of the economy and the forbearance shown by secured lenders, but on the attitude of borrowers and unsecured lenders alike.

“In this recession, many people are suffering multiple ‘shocks’ at the same time. With 2.2 million unemployed and many others dealing with reduced wages, homeowners are also facing the issue of falling equity. While there’s no direct link between low (or negative) equity and repossession, this is limiting many homeowners’ ability to access ways of dealing with their debt – from debt consolidation loans and remortgaging to downsizing to a smaller property.

“It all underlines the importance of finding a solution that addresses a borrower’s priority and non-priority commitments at the same time. A founder member of DEMSA (the Debt Managers Standards Association), Gregory Pennington has 15 years’ experience of dealing with lenders of all kinds.

“Secured and unsecured lenders alike clearly have a thorough understanding of the problems consumers face today. They understand the link between secured and unsecured debt problems.

“Secured lenders know that many of today’s borrowers are facing complex financial problems, trying to deal with unsecured debts as well as secured.

“Unsecured lenders, in general, appreciate that a homeowner’s secured debts must take priority – and that repossession is unlikely to improve the borrower’s chances of repaying their unsecured debt.

“This is one reason unsecured lenders will often agree to the terms of an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement).”

A solution that’s designed to address the concerns of everyone involved, an IVA can help unsecured lenders recover as much of their money as realistically possible, and can help borrowers avoid the need to focus on their mortgage / rent at the expense of their unsecured debts. Insolvency Practitioners (IPs) achieve this by calculating how much the individual can realistically afford to repay per month after they’ve taken their mortgage / rent payments and other essential expenses into account.

“Even so, we always emphasise that entering an IVA is a serious step, and is by no means suitable for everyone facing debt problems. Depending on their situation, different homeowners may be better advised to consider alternative solutions to their debt problems.”

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Debt Management Could Help With Unmanageable Credit Card Debt

Responding to a new report suggesting that there are more than 200,000 ‘secret credit cards’ in the UK – cards that are kept hidden from the holder’s partner – financial solutions company Think Money has advised consumers that while credit cards can be a useful means of funding purchases, borrowers should be careful to ensure that they can make their repayments in order to avoid debt problems in the future.


Research from Halifax Credit Cards showed that people in the UK hide an estimated 217,000 credit cards from their partners. Reasons for doing this included buying items the card holder did not want their partners to know about, hiding existing debt from partners, or simply having emergency funds available.

According to credit card trade association APACS, there are 30.2 million credit card holders in the UK. Total credit card spending in 2008 was £126.2 billion.

Melanie Taylor, Head of Corporate Relations for Think Money, said that while there is nothing specifically wrong with having a ‘secret’ credit card, card holders should ensure they are hiding it for the right reasons – and not in order to hide problem debts.

“It boils down to the same principle as having any credit card. Credit cards can be a very useful source of additional finances, as well as a ‘safety net’ against any unexpected costs. Used correctly, credit cards should not cause the consumer any problems.

“However, it’s when the borrower starts delaying their repayments – paying only the minimum – that the problems can start.

“The trouble with credit card debt is that the interest is a lot higher than on many other forms of credit. If the borrower does not repay the full credit card balance at the end of the month, then the interest that accumulates on the remaining balance may be a lot higher than a lower-interest alternative, such as an authorised overdraft.

“Over time, the interest can begin to ‘snowball’, and it can become increasingly difficult to repay the remaining balance. It may not be long before the debt becomes unmanageable – which is why it’s important to get debt advice at the first sign of difficulty.”

Mrs Taylor added that the relatively low minimum repayment on credit cards means that some people can take a long time to clear the debt.

“Unlike personal loans, which carry fixed regular repayment terms, credit cards only require a minimum repayment each month. This makes it very easy to delay repaying the full balance, which is how problems start for many borrowers.

“In general, we advise people to avoid making large purchases on credit cards unless they can be absolutely sure that they can afford to repay the debt in the near future.”

Mrs Taylor said that anyone who does find themselves struggling to repay their credit card debt should not hesitate to seek professional debt advice.

“Because the interest will only continue to grow, finding the right debt solution is vital for anyone who can no longer afford to repay their credit card debt.

“One such debt solution is a debt management plan, which is an informal arrangement with the lender that can allow the borrower to repay their debt at a more manageable pace. It is often also possible to negotiate a freeze or reduction in interest, which could be especially helpful for repaying credit card debt.

“However, borrowers should always consider all options available to them. A professional debt adviser can recommend the best debt solution for the borrower’s individual circumstances.”

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Debt Management: The Earlier, The Better

Responding to news that the Credit Services Association (CSA) has agreed that its members will grant 30 days’ ‘breathing space’ to borrowers who have fallen behind on their debt repayments, debt management company Gregory Pennington has advised struggling borrowers to take advantage of the opportunity to seek expert debt advice.


The CSA, which represents debt recovery agencies in the UK, says the addition to its code of practice is “one of a series of positive measures being introduced […] to ease the pressure on debtors”.

It comes after discussions between the CSA and the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) aimed at helping the increasing number of people getting into trouble with debt.

The CSA said that it “acknowledged that the present economic environment is placing greater pressure on debtors, and debts are increasingly being passed to agencies for collection”.

Starting from the moment that the borrower informs the debt recovery agency that an accredited debt adviser has been appointed to the case, debt recovery agencies will take no further action to recover the debt for a 30-day period. Borrowers can use this time to establish the best way to tackle their debts, with the assistance of their debt adviser.

Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas said: “This new 30-day rule will give people a breathing space to help them take control of their finances as well as encourage them to seek help from debt advisers.”

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said: “This 30-day period will give struggling borrowers some room to do something about their debts before a debt collector will take any action. This has become more important in recent months, with the economic downturn putting pressure on many people’s finances.”

However, the spokesperson reminded borrowers that their situation with debt doesn’t have to go as far as dealing with debt collectors, as taking the right action early can often set the borrower on their way to becoming debt-free.

“A debt collector will rarely get in touch with a borrower unless they have fallen quite significantly behind on their debts. With that in mind, the best course of action for anyone struggling to repay debt is to get in touch with a debt adviser at the first sign of problems.

“Debts can grow very quickly – and the higher the interest rate, the more rapidly they will grow. That means that the further the borrower falls behind on their debt repayments, the more costly it may become.

“We advise that people who are having difficulties with their debts should not hesitate to get expert debt advice. The sooner the problem is addressed, the sooner it can be solved.

The spokesperson added that finding the right kind of debt solution can be a huge step forward for people who are looking to clear their debts.

“There are a number of debt solutions available to help people in various situations with their debts, and a professional debt adviser can offer guidance on the most suitable solution for a borrower’s circumstances.”

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Saving Is Important, But Debt Should Be Priority

Debt management company Gregory Pennington (www.gregorypennington.com) has welcomed news that more consumers are concentrating on putting money towards their debts rather than making savings, saying that this may make the best financial sense in the current economic conditions.

Gregory Pennington

However, the company added that consumers should be careful about where to draw the line, as savings can be a particularly important and useful aspect of people’s finances.

In Nationwide’s latest Savings Index, its senior economist Martin Gahbauer said that households were looking to increase the amount of money put towards their debt repayments “in response to the uncertain economic environment”.

He added that the negative level of housing equity withdrawal reported by the Bank of England earlier this month reflected this trend, and showed that households were using their available cash to reduce their mortgage balances more quickly, rather than spending it on non-essentials or putting it into a savings account.

Indeed, the Bank of England’s figures showed that in the final quarter of 2008, homeowners put a collective £8bn more towards their mortgage debt than they took out in equity withdrawals. It was the third consecutive quarter in which homeowners repaid more than they withdrew, although 2008 was the first year in a decade in which this had occurred.

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said that given the current state of the economy, repaying debt should be a priority for anyone who feels that their debt could become a burden.

“Debt repayments can be a burden on anyone’s finances, and that can become even more the case in times of financial hardship. In a time when many essential costs are rising, and when the risk of unemployment is higher than usual, reducing debt is particularly important.

“Even if a person’s debts seem relatively manageable now, a few unexpected events could change that. It’s essential that anyone who borrows money considers their long-term ability to repay the debt. Equally, anyone who finds themselves struggling should contact an expert debt adviser as soon as possible.”

However, the spokesperson added that savings are still very important, and people should look to save money whenever it is sensible to do so.

“Technically, it makes more sense to repay debt than save, even if that means using up those savings,” she said. “That’s because interest on debt nearly always grows faster than on savings, meaning that the person will spend less in the long run by tackling their debts first.

“However, being in debt doesn’t always mean people should avoid saving. If the borrower’s debts are entirely manageable – especially if their terms and conditions do not allow them to make overpayments – then there is no real reason why they should not put money into savings at the same time.

“Savings can offer a great deal of protection against debt, as well as long-term security. For example, a person who puts money aside every month is much better placed to manage any unexpected costs that may arise, or to get by in a period of unemployment.

“It can be difficult to decide whether it’s worth saving money or putting it towards debt repayments. We advise anyone who is unsure what to do with their money to seek free, impartial advice from a professional financial adviser.”

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Debt Advice Important For Struggling Borrowers

Responding to news that total personal debt levels in the UK have risen over the past year, Debt Advisers Direct have warned of the dangers of getting into debt in this difficult time for the economy, and advised anyone who finds themselves struggling to repay debt to seek expert debt advice.

Debt Advisers Direct

New lending figures released by the Bank of England this week revealed that total personal debt in the UK stood at £1.458 trillion at the end of February – a rise of £34 billion compared with the previous year.

That means that despite increased caution amongst financial institutions with regard to lending, the average UK adult has taken on approximately £680 in additional credit over the past year.

However, Bank of England statistics also show that the rate at which personal debt is growing has slowed compared with February 2008, when the total increased by £111 billion compared with the previous year.

A spokesperson for Debt Advisers Direct commented: “A £34 billion increase in total personal debt may surprise some people, given the relatively cautious nature of the lending industry over the past 18 months, even though it is only around a third of the levels seen in the previous year.

“On the one hand, it may suggest that the market for loans and mortgages is not as difficult as many people believed. Lenders have still issued a relatively large amount of money in the past year.

“On the other hand, it could also indicate that people are making more use of the credit they already had. For example, whereas people may have used their credit cards and overdrafts sparingly in the past, many people who have been put under pressure by the economic downturn may have found it necessary to spend more on credit.

This is fine in the short term, so long as those debts are repaid, but if the borrower can not afford to repay those debts in full, then the situation can become more serious.”

The spokesperson added that consumers could benefit from avoiding getting into debt wherever possible, and ensuring that they promptly pay back any credit they do use.

“With more people currently at increased risk of redundancy or a reduction in income, it makes sense for people to ensure that their finances are well prepared for the future. For most people, that should involve reducing debts wherever possible.

“Of course, that is difficult for people whose finances are already stretched to their limits. We have seen massive rises in many essential costs of living over the last 18 months, which have led to many people falling behind on their commitments.

“That’s where a professional debt adviser can help. There are a number of debt solutions that can help people in difficult financial situations to reduce their debts and make their monthly outgoings a lot more manageable. It’s important that anyone who finds themselves struggling to repay their debts seeks debt advice as early as possible to prevent the problem from becoming any worse.”

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Workers Must Ensure They Are Prepared For Pay Cuts Says Gregory Pennington

In response to a new report claiming that 70% of UK companies may be planning to freeze or cut wages this year in an attempt to get through the recession, debt management company Gregory Pennington has advised workers to take what steps they can to prepare for any potential reduction in income.

The company added that anyone with debts to their name could be at a disadvantage if their income is reduced, and as such they should look to address their debts as a matter of priority.

The latest monthly business survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) claimed that of 400 companies questioned, around 70% planned to freeze or cut wages later this year.

58% of companies said they planned to freeze wages this year, while 12% planned to actively reduce wages.

Most of the rest of the companies, however, planned wage increases of between 1% and
3%, with almost one in ten companies saying they would raise wages by more than 3% –
suggesting some areas of business are not struggling, despite the recession.

Even so, half of the companies were considering making staff redundant in the next six months in an attempt to survive the economic downturn, according to the survey.

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington said that despite some surprising optimism amongst the 9% of companies which would be raising salaries, most people would be best advised to ensure that their finances are as healthy as possible in preparation for the next few months.

“We are in a difficult situation, in which many costs of living are rising rapidly while the equity in our homes is falling. Along with the prospect of high levels of unemployment, it’s unclear whether the situation will get better or worse in the coming months.

“In any situation involving that kind of uncertainty, it’s especially important that people are quick to ensure that their finances are in the best possible shape for getting through potentially difficult times.

“Perhaps the most important factor is savings. People with savings have a ‘safety net’ they can fall back on if they find their finances are hit particularly hard, and this could help families and individuals alike to compensate for any reduction in income.

“However, getting on top of any debts is also very important – and if the borrower has savings they can fall back on, it’s often most important that those savings are used to repay their debts. The logic behind this is simple – the interest on debt usually grows more quickly than the interest on savings, so the borrower will spend less overall by paying off their debts as quickly as possible.

“However, workers need to consider this carefully. If they are facing potential redundancy, they may wish to hold on to their savings so that they can continue to repay their priority debts, such as their mortgage.”

The Gregory Pennington spokesperson added that there are many people who may be experiencing problems with debt who do not have any savings to fall back on – and those people should seek debt advice as soon as possible.

“A lot of people may be facing a reduced income or even redundancy with little or no savings. If those people also have debts to repay, the situation can be quite worrying.

“However, a professional debt adviser can help people to find the best way of tackling their debts – which can offer a lot of relief in difficult times.”

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Mortgage Debt: Comment On Housing Equity Injection

Responding to news that homeowners had injected a record £8 billion into housing equity in the final quarter of 2008, debt management company Gregory Pennington stressed that this reversal of a long-term trend was due to a combination of factors, rather than any single event.

“Prior to Q2 2008,” said Melanie Taylor, Head of Corporate Relations for Gregory Pennington, “the last time we saw homeowners injecting money into housing equity was in Q2 1998, when they injected £279 million – a mere 3.5% of the amount injected in the final quarter of 2008.”

In the decade following 1998, of course, the average house price virtually tripled, which obviously enabled millions of homeowners to turn many billions of housing equity into cash. The highpoint of this occurred in Q4 of 2003, when £17 billion of equity was withdrawn – a full 8.5% of post-tax income.

A full decade of rapid price rises meant that homeowners were both willing and able to keep on withdrawing equity for some time after the house price boom came to an end in 2007: it wasn’t until the second quarter of 2008 that equity injections began to outweigh withdrawals.

“Standing at £1.8 billion in Q2, quarterly equity injection rapidly soared to the record level of £8 billion by Q4 – thanks to a falling base rate and a faltering housing market, as well as worries about the recession in general.

“Plummeting from 5% to 2% in Q4 alone, the falling base rate had two crucial effects on the way homeowners treated their mortgage debt. First of all, it helped people find new deals with lower monthly payments, and enabled people with existing tracker and SVR mortgages to overpay their mortgages without spending more than they were used to. Second, it led the banks and building societies to drop the rates they were paying on savers’ accounts. Many people looking for the best return on their ‘spare’ money realised that overpaying their mortgage would be much more valuable in the long run than putting their money in a savings account.

“Looking beyond interest rates and house prices, the recession itself has prompted a more conservative attitude, particularly among people who’ve experienced recessions in the past. The news has been full of repossessions, redundancies, ‘awful’ economic conditions – and a succession of dire predictions from a wide range of respected bodies, making it clear that things were expected to get a lot worse before they got better.”

Whatever the reasons, overpaying the mortgage can deliver various benefits: “Aside from reducing the amount of interest they’ll pay over the lifetime of the mortgage, overpayments can also shorten the actual term of the mortgage, meaning the homeowner will own the property outright sooner than initially expected. There’s also the question of reducing their mortgage debt and increasing the equity in the home, which can give homeowners access to mortgage deals with much lower interest rates – something which many will be keen to do as soon as possible, before the base rate has a chance to start rising again.”

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The Importance Of Getting Debt Help At The First Sign Of Financial Difficulties

Debt management company Gregory Pennington has emphasised the importance of getting debt help at the first sign of financial difficulties, following research showing that the average UK worker spent the first 83 days of 2009 earning just enough to cover the interest on their debts.

Unbiased.co.uk have said that March 25th was this year’s ‘Debt Freedom Day’ – a theoretical date on which the average UK worker’s earnings have covered the amount they will pay in interest on their debts (not including mortgages) over the course of the year.

The date came more than two weeks later than last year’s Debt Freedom Day, which fell on Ma rch 2nd 2008. This means that debt levels amongst people in the UK have risen, despite increased caution amongst lenders.

Unbiased.co.uk’s figures showed that personal loans borrowed in 2008 amounted to £11.6bn in 2008 – up by more than £1.6bn on the previous year. Meanwhile, mortgage debt from equity release loans increased by £6.5 billion. Debt on credit cards, however, fell by £4.9bn.

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington commented: “We can look at lending figures from recent years and see how much personal debt has risen, but the amount of time it can take to repay the interest on those debts may surprise some borrowers.

“It’s also worth remembering that this is before the borrower has started repaying the actual debt, which suggests that a lot of people may be spending a considerable proportion of their annual income repaying debts.”

Debt Freedom Day works on a similar basis to ‘Tax Freedom Day’, recorded by the Adam Smith Institute, an economic think tank. Last year’s Tax Freedom Day fell on June 2nd – meaning that if these figures are combined, the average UK worker spends almost three quarters of their annual income on tax and debt interest.

The Gregory Pennington spokesperson said that the figures not only show how much the average UK worker spends on debt interest each year – they also show how much better off they could be once those debts have been taken care of.

“Especially in difficult times for the economy, reducing debt can ensure that people are well-prepared for what the future may hold. If costs begin to rise sharply, or any other unexpected financial events occur, people who are in debt are more likely to struggle. If that results in the borrower missing debt repayments, the situation can become quite serious.

“The fact that interest rates have fallen sharply in recent months will help some people – particularly those who have experience a fall in their mortgage costs – but for situations that have become more serious, finding the right type of debt management could make a big difference.

“We advise anyone who is struggling to repay their debts to seek professional debt help at the first sign of difficulty. A debt adviser can discuss the borrower’s situation in confidence and, if necessary, recommend a suitable debt solution for their personal circumstances.”

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Managing Debts When The Economy Slumps

Responding to the Fourth Quarter Economic Survey from the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), debt management company Gregory Pennington stressed that negotiating with lenders is an important part of dealing with (and preparing for) the kind of ‘tough times’ that the Survey spells out.

“Most economic reports contain a mixture of good and bad news,” said a spokesperson forGregory Pennington, “but the BCC has stated – in black and white – that ‘There are nopositive features in the Q4 results’, going on to use words like ‘awful’, ‘terrible’ and‘alarming’. There’s no point in being overly negative, but the report clearly spells out that last year ended badly – and that businesses throughout the UK are in for a rough 2009.

“Every time a business fails, this inevitably has a negative impact on consumers’ finances – not just its actual employees, but everyone connected to the business, from its suppliers to its commercial customers. Everyone who depends on that business for all or part of their income will have to make the necessary adjustments to their lifestyle, until they can find a way to raise their income once more.

“During a period of economic turmoil and high unemployment, carrying debts can beparticularly dangerous. Anyone entering a period of unemployment with significant unsecured debts to their name is far more likely to run into difficulty almost at once: as well as paying for essentials such as mortgage / rent, utilities, food, petrol, etc., they’ll need to stay on top of payments to their unsecured debts – payments which have suddenly become much harder to afford.

“When someone (whether employed or unemployed) can’t keep up with their debt repayments, this can lead to charges and legal action, and can draw them into a ‘spiral’ of debt, in which all their efforts to reduce the debt aren’t enough to keep pace with the rate at which it’s growing. Negotiating with lenders – through a debt management plan, for example – can help them avoid this, as their lenders may agree to accept lower monthly repayments, waive charges and freeze or reduce interest.”

“Of course, surviving a period of unemployment will be easier if they’ve taken precautionary steps beforehand – perhaps when they hear warnings from organisations such as the BCC, the International Monetary Fund or the International Labour Organization. For example, some people may attempt to overpay their mortgage so they’re in a better position if they need to take a payment holiday later on. Others may choose to concentrate on their credit card debt or overdraft, trying to reduce the monthly cost of servicing their debts, as well as the overall debt itself.

“They may not be able to clear their debts altogether, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a good start. The more progress they can make, the easier it will be to cope if they are made redundant – and if they aren’t, they’ll still benefit from reduced interest payments and increased financial security.”

Borrowers who do end up losing their job may find that a debt management plan could help them adapt to living with a reduced income more quickly. “Their debt managementrepresentatives will be able to talk to their creditors, trying to re-negotiate lowerrepayments that reflect their lower income. In many cases, lenders would recognise thattemporarily accepting lower payments (if necessary, nominal payments) could help theborrower cope until they could find new employment – or to get back on top of their debtsonce they have found it. After all, in the vast majority of cases, it’s in everyone’s interest to ensure the borrower has an opportunity to repay their debts, rather than beingdeclared bankrupt.”

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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.

Via EPR Network
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Debt Management Company Gregory Pennington Have Advised Anyone Currently Struggling To Repay Debts To Seek Professional Debt Advice

Responding to a new report from PricewaterhouseCoopers suggesting that over a quarter of borrowers are worried about their ability to repay debts, debt management company Gregory Pennington has advised consumers that all forms of borrowing should be planned well to ensure that the debts can be repaid, and has encouraged anyone struggling to repay their debts to seek professional debt advice.

The Credit Confidence Survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggested that over one in four people (27%) are worried about their future ability to repay debts, while 20% of UK credit customers are worried about the future availability of credit – suggesting a reliance on credit to pay off existing debts.

16% of those questioned reported that they were already struggling to make debt repayments, “very few” of whom have considered options to restructure their debt, such as a debt management plan.

The report also found:

• Unsecured borrowing has actually risen by 6% compared with last year – although secured borrowing has fallen ‘dramatically’
• Insolvencies increased by around 9% in the third quarter of 2008, compared with the second quarter
• Every working hour, over 100 adults enter into bankruptcy, an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or start a Debt Management Plan

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington commented: “Although the survey on the whole represents good confidence levels amongst a lot of borrowers, the fact that over one in four borrowers are worried about their future ability to repay debts highlights the importance of future planning when it comes to borrowing.

“One of the most important steps for borrowers to take before taking out a loan is to establish how much they want to borrow and how much they can afford to repay each month. There is also the matter of how long the repayment terms should be – the longer the terms, the more time there is in which the borrower’s circumstances could change, and a change in circumstances could affect their ability to make repayments.

“Of course, there are many cases in which unforeseen circumstances prevent borrowers from repaying their debts, such as unemployment or a fall in earnings.

“Whatever the reason, anyone struggling to repay their debts should take decisive action as early as possible. A debt adviser can provide information on a range of debt solutions that can help to minimise monthly outgoings, which could be crucial to those hard-pressed by the current economic situation.

“For example, a debt management plan through a professional debt adviser can enable people to pay back their debts at a more manageable pace, while reducing or freezing interest and other charges. However, this can mean the debts take longer to repay than originally planned.

“Alternatively, a debt consolidation loan can ‘group together’ the borrower’s debts, meaning they pay one creditor instead of many. A debt consolidation loan can also be spread out over a longer period of time than the original debts, meaning monthly outgoings are reduced – although this can mean paying more interest in the long run. However, if the borrower is consolidating high-APR debts such as credit cards, the lower interest rate can often mean that less interest is paid overall.

“For more serious debts, typically of £15,000 or higher, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be the most appropriate option. An IVA involves working with an Insolvency Practitioner to draw up a proposal for lower debt repayments based on an amount that the borrower can afford. This normally continues for five years, and on successful completion the remaining debt is considered settled.

“As with anything debt related, it’s always advisable for borrowers to speak to an expert debt adviser before deciding on the appropriate solution for their debts.”

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Debt management company Gregory Pennington welcomes the recent fall in inflation – in particular, the indication that some of the financial pressures on struggling borrowers are starting

Welcoming the recent fall in inflation, debt management company Gregory Pennington highlighted the significance of this drop to people struggling to manage their debts.

In October, the CPI (Consumer Price Index) measure fell from 5.2% to 4.5% – the largest month-on-month fall in 16 years. Having said that, the reading of 5.2% was the highest reading in 16 years, so even a reduction of 0.7% falls far short of returning inflation to a ‘normal’ level.

“Remember the Bank of England’s target for CPI inflation is just 2%,” said a spokesperson for the debt management company. “At 4.5%, today’s rate of inflation still means prices are rising more than twice as fast as the Bank would like – this reduction simply means that the speed with which things are getting more expensive is slowing.

“More to the point, CPI has been over the Bank of England’s 2% target ever since October 2007, so today’s consumers are still dealing with the cumulative impact of a full year of high inflation. And the timing makes that elevated cost of living particularly dangerous: today’s consumers are also dealing with record levels of personal debt, as well as rising unemployment.”

As a result, there are many people finding it hard to manage their debts: trying to stretch a shrinking budget further each month. “For anyone in that position, any decrease in inflation can’t come fast enough. They’ll be relieved to see some expenses – such as petrol – coming down, but many other things are still far higher than they were a year ago. A recent article in The Guardian, for example, reported that a basket of 24 staple items in the UK’s biggest three supermarkets now costs 17.8% more than it did last November.”

Looking forward to next year, it seems the Bank of England is expecting inflation to eventually drop below its 2% target, and perhaps as low as 1%. “This is good news for two reasons,” said the spokesperson for the debt management company. “Not just because it’ll mean prices are (relatively) coming down, but also because it could allow the Bank to cut the base rate even further.

“Clearly, a lower base rate could help many people currently struggling with their finances. People on tracker mortgages will see the most immediate benefit – many of them have already seen their mortgage payments drop by hundreds of pounds compared with July, when the base rate stood at 5.75%.”

Nonetheless, too little inflation can be as dangerous as too much – and we’re now facing the possibility of deflation in 2009. While economists agree that a short stint of deflation would not be a problem, any sustained period of shrinking prices could seriously damage the economy.

Deflation means a decrease in the price of property, shares and goods of all kinds. People therefore wait to buy expensive items, as it only makes sense to wait until the price comes down. Falling demand means companies sell less and are forced to reduce their workforce.

“It’s clear the Bank of England has a delicate balancing act ahead of it: when it comes to normal people managing their debts, deflation could be as big a danger as high inflation.”

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Debt Advisers Direct have warned that the squeeze on incomes could become tighter in the coming months

Debt Advisers Direct have responded to findings that Britons’ disposable incomes have fallen by nearly 30% on average in the past two years, warning that the pressure on incomes could increase as the economic crisis progresses, and have advised consumers to take care of any debts as soon as possible.

Responding to research by Abbey Credit Cards claiming that British citizens have seen their disposable income fall by nearly 30% during the past two years,Debt Advisers Direct have warned that the squeeze on incomes could become tighter in the coming months, and have advised consumers to take care of any financial issues, especially outstanding debts, as soon as possible.

According to the research, the average household now has only 25% – around £382 – of their monthly income left after essential costs such as mortgage payments and energy bills have been paid.

That figure is down from £541 in disposable income available to British households just two years ago – a 29% fall.

The research also claims that one in ten spend 90% of their income on bills and other essential costs, leaving only 10% as disposable income.

On average, British households were spending 7.4% of their total income on repaying debts, not including mortgages, the research claimed.

Meanwhile, an average 24% went towards mortgage or rent payments, 17% on household bills, 16% on food, and 8% on transport costs.

British incomes have been put under pressure on two fronts throughout the economic crisis, with costs of living such as energy bills and food prices rising rapidly, and the credit crunch limiting access to additional funds in the form of loans and mortgages.

The effects have been tangible, with overall retail sales gradually declining over the year, and profits for ‘budget stores’ increasing – a sign that consumers’ perceived priorities are shifting as their disposable incomes shrink.

An expert from Debt Advisers Direct said: “Many people consider disposable income a luxury that can be spent on ‘unnecessary’ items, but it’s important to remember that disposable income is also a very important buffer against unexpected rises in outgoings.

“For example, if someone depends on their car to get to work, and they have to pay for a £500 repair with only £200 disposable income, that person could be forced into debt in order to make ends meet. That’s why it’s important for people to minimise their outgoings, and make savings where possible.

“The overall situation has become worse over the past year because costs of living, especially energy prices have risen so quickly. Food and other retail products are now falling in price, but energy prices have shown no sign of doing the same – and this continues to push more people towards debt.”

The Debt Advisers Direct spokesperson added that there are a number of debt solutions that can help to minimise outgoings when finances are limited.

“For people with multiple debts, a debt consolidation loan can be spread out across a longer period of time than the original debts, meaning monthly payments are lower,” she said. “Interest rates can also be reduced, especially when consolidating high-APR debts such as credit cards. However if the debt is repaid over a longer period, the additional interest from this can counteract some of the savings made.

“For debts that are becoming unmanageable, a debt management can help. It involves arranging to repay creditors in smaller amounts, based on how much the person in debt can afford, over a longer period of time.

“As always, we advise anyone looking to tackle their debts to seek professional debt advice beforehand.”

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Gregory Pennington reminded Consumers That Tackling Their Debt Problems Is More Important Than Ever In An Economic Downturn

Responding to recent debt-related comments from Nick Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, debt management company Gregory Pennington reminded consumers that tackling their debt problems is more important than ever in an economic downturn.

New analysis, states the Liberal Democrats’ website, reveals that personal debt has risen by a total of one trillion pounds in the past eleven years – a startling ten million pounds for every hour the Labour government has been in power. Repayments to that collective personal debt stand at almost £95 billion per year, or £3,000 per second.

“Much of that debt, of course, is in the form of mortgage debt,” said a spokesperson for the debt management company. “According to the latest figures from the Bank of England (Lending to individuals: September 2008), individuals now owe a total of around £1,460 billion – and a full £1,220 billion of that total is secured against dwellings.”

“Mortgage debt is still a serious issue, with many homeowners having over-extended themselves in order to get a foot on the housing ladder. Even so, taking on a debt to acquire an asset is fundamentally different from borrowing in order to finance a lifestyle, or to pay for food, gas or petrol, as many people have grown used to doing in recent years.

“After all, the vast majority of non-homeowners still need to make monthly payments, in the form of rent. In other words, a mortgage debt needn’t actually add to an individual’s monthly financial burden – in fact, their monthly mortgage payments may well cost less than the rent payments they would need to make to live in a comparable property.

“Even so, Mr Clegg raises some valid points. Britain’s level of personal debt is, as he puts it, ‘unrivalled anywhere in the world outside of the US’, and this can be particularly dangerous in the context of a global economic downturn. Clearly, people with higher levels of personal debt are more at risk of running into severe financial problems more or less as soon as their income drops. People with little or no debt are, in general, much better placed to cope with any financial problems they may encounter as a result of the global downturn.

“As a debt management company, we specialise in debt management plans that help people bring their unsecured debts under control. But debt management is by no means the only way of coping with (and reducing) high levels of unsecured debt. People with debt problems may find they have a range of debt solutions to choose from, and should talk to a professional adviser as soon as possible – the sooner they do this, the more likely they are to get through any financial problems that may lie ahead.

“In the longer term,” the spokesperson for the debt management company concluded, “we wholeheartedly support Mr Clegg’s call for financial literacy to play a much bigger part in education. As he says, ‘maths for life is more important than trigonometry for most people’ – financial education is clearly a key part of helping future generations avoid the kind of debt problems that so many of today’s adults are facing.”

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Debt Management Company Gregory Pennington Have Said That Now Is A More Important Time Than Ever For Consumers To Get Their Finances In Order And Tackle Any Existing Debt Problems

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.”

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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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The Risk Of A Severe Economic Downturn Still Remains, And Taking Care Of Personal Finances Should Be Made Top Priority In The Coming Weeks And Months

Debt management company Gregory Pennington have warned that the economy remains uncertain, despite a number of signals suggesting a potential recovery, and have advised anyone facing severe financial problems to seek professional debt advice as soon as possible.

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee’s announcement on Wednesday that the base rate would fall to 4.5% was intended to calm fears surrounding the money market and increase lenders’ willingness to do business with one another, subsequently increasing liquidity and boosting the loans market.

A number of lenders announced cuts to their mortgage rates following the base rate announcement – which may come as a relief to prospective homeowners or existing homeowners looking to remortgage, following many lenders’ reluctance to respond to the last base rate drop.

Meanwhile, petrol prices recently fell to as little as 103.9 pence per litre, while food price growth slowed by 0.2% in September, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC)– arousing speculation that overall inflation has hit its peak and will now begin to slow.

However, a spokesperson for Gregory Pennington commented that while there are encouraging signs for the economy, there is no guarantee that further difficulty for the economy can be avoided.

“The first thing to bear in mind is that while the base rate cut is intended to help the economy, it was brought in as an emergency measure,” she said. “The threat of a severe economic downturn is still looming and there are no guarantees it can be avoided.

“The fall in oil and food prices are very encouraging, but both are heavily affected by external factors, largely outside our Government’s control.”

The debt management company spokesperson was keen to emphasise the continued need to take care over finances and manage debts effectively in the coming months. “There is still the possibility that things could get tighter in the near future, so it pays to tackle any financial issues now, rather than waiting to see what happens next.

“People who are struggling with debt are especially at risk, because their finances are already stretched – and any further rises in costs of living could make those debts unmanageable.

“As always, we advise anyone struggling with debt to seek expert debt advice as soon as possible. Leaving it too late could allow your debts to grow, which is particularly dangerous if costs of living do continue to rise.

“There are a number of debt solutions to help with various financial situations. A debt management plan is a flexible means of getting out of debt in which your repayments are based on how much you can afford, and in some cases interest and other charges can be frozen.

Debt consolidation involves grouping your debts into one convenient monthly payment, therefore simplifying your finances, and your debt can also be spread out over a longer period of time, meaning monthly payments are smaller – although this can mean you pay more interest in the long run.

“For more serious debts of over £15,000, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be more appropriate. These work by agreeing with your creditors to make payments based on what you can afford for a period of five years, after which the remaining debt is considered settled.”

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