Advisors on hand to deal with festive debt burden

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THE Hawick branch of the Citizens Advice Bureau is bracing itself for a festive financial hangover after revealing that Teries’ worst debts are with credit cards.

As well as predicting that the office will help an increased number of clients with their finances in 2012 – following on from a trend from last year – the local manager says they are expecting Christmas spending to add to the problem.

With the Towerdykeside office reporting that the highest amount of debt owed on plastic by local clients already totals £663,144, Hawick manager Patricia Buckley stated: “We usually expect an increase in the number of debt problems later in January when the credit card statements come in through the letter box.”

During 2011 in Roxburgh alone, 114 new clients were assisted with debt problems totalling more than £2million.

Highlighting how they can help townsfolk in financial difficulties, Mrs Buckley explained: “With the help of our specialist money advisers, anyone with a debt problem will be able to make the most appropriate choice on how to proceed in tackling their debts. By preparing a financial statement for them they will be better able to budget, and we may be able to help with other ways to improve income if at all possible”.

And alluding to figures released by a leading accountancy firm this week which estimates that more than 2,000 Scots will go bust this year, Susan McPhee, head of policy for Citizens Advice Scotland, added: “Nobody wants to be declared insolvent. It is not a step we would ever advise anyone to take lightly. However, if your debts have become unmanageable, and you really can’t see a way out, then bankruptcy can be your only realistic course.

“The best option is not always bankruptcy but can include the Debt Arrangement Scheme, Protected Trust Deeds and Voluntary Payment Plans. The important thing is always to ask for help sooner rather than later, and to try to get help from a reliable, respected, independent, free and confidential service.”

She added: “We would urge everyone to maintain their essential expenditure such as rent, mortgage, council tax, secured loans and utility costs. We can also signpost clients to other organisations which may be able to give further assistance.”