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Thursday, 24 April 2014

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£3.4m debt nightmare for north and west Cumbrian families

More than 1,500 families are struggling with debts worth £3.4 million across north and west Cumbria.

Credit union boss Mandy Johnston photo
Mandy Johnston

The shocking new figures, highlighting the number of families who have turned to the Money Advice Service and Cumbria credit unions for help in the last six months, show the average debt-ridden family in Carlisle owes £12,700.

Across west Cumbria and Carlisle, a total of 1,661 families have sought advice for help with debts – and some foodbanks have seen demand soar by 70 per cent.

Nearly 1,000 families in Carlisle have been helped with more than £2.3m of debt in the last six months.

And, according to a Cumbria County Council report, the number of people in Carlisle turning to so-called pay day loan lenders, which often charge sky-high interest rates, is growing.

The study also shows that people in areas such as Botcherby, Castle, Denton Holme, St Aidans and Upperby, are worst affected by debt.

Rural, more prosperous areas like Irthing, Wetheral, Stanwix Rural and Great Corby and Geltsdale, are least affected.

And about 9,000 people in Cumbria have contacted the county’s Money Advice Service, run by Citizens’ Advice, for help dealing with millions of pounds of debt, since it was formed in 2007.

Mandy Johnston from the Carlisle and District Credit Union, which has around 3,000 members, says up to 40 people are turning to the organisation every month.

She added: “With gas and electricity bills starting to bite, this Christmas will be hard for a lot of people so we are having to be more cautious with what we do lend.”

The credit union has launched a new campaign warning young people in the city to avoid pay day loan lenders. It says that the use of pay day loans among borrowers is becoming more “mainstream” and is increasingly being regarded as “acceptable”.

Rob Betton, city and county councillor for Botcherby, said: “These figures are very concerning and speak for themselves – this shouldn’t be happening in this day and age. My message is to use the excellent and friendly services offered by the credit union and avoid the big money lenders who charge terrible amounts of interest.”

A report reveals that Copeland’s Money Advice Service has helped 661 people with nearly £1.1m of debt since April. Whitehaven, Egremont and District Credit Union said demand for food vouchers soared by 70 per cent in a year.

Have your say

My 99 year old neighbour commenting on the debt level of some folks. Adding that how many could have expensive leather suites, Sky and flat screen tv's besides the latest mobiles for example. Being a youngster baby boomer of 1940's I recall rationing (bread and sugared banana sandwiches... the endless ration list. ) which extended into the 1950's and first paid my income tax on double Xmas pay of newspaper boy aged 11. Decades later so many have fiddled income tax, whilst mine was taxed at source, now many folks, how many could be called wimps who don't even want work, claiming what they believe they're entitled too by right... Another row of disablement bays? Nope with my doctor once adding, "If I make you disabled, it'll be harder to find work." Nope! Thankfully, I have worked which including leap years of 366/7/24. I shared what the lady almost 100 had worked alike myself, all my life and could not esteem to have the nerve, to run up such debt levels and the luxuries of now being a pensioner see myself almost toasting by candle with a little disablement that is not worse than some really needing a blue badge. My neighbour adding that so many today have their priorities all wrong. Leather settee?

Posted by Royl on 4 December 2013 at 17:29

Funny how you never file a story about how these people come to have these debts isn't it.

Posted by Arthur Millie on 3 December 2013 at 21:22

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