Rhondda AM Leanne Wood has backed calls for family and friends to spot the signs of problem debt after figures reveal RCT has the second highest number of people with money problems in Wales.
Figures supplied by the Money Advice Service show that 35,783 adults in the RCT County Borough Council area are ‘over-indebted.’ This represents the second highest figure in Wales and means nearly 1-in-5 adults in RCT are ‘over-indebted.’
In response, Ms Wood has echoed advice for people to encourage family members or friends experiencing financial difficulties to seek advice and professional help rather than try and hide or ignore the problem.
Research has shown that the signs someone is experiencing problem debt are often difficult to spot. They may be hidden due to embarrassment, to protect friends and family from the situation or because they ether don’t realise or want to confront the full extent of the problem.
Signs will vary for each person. However, there are a range of physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms which can give friends and family subtle clues about behaviour which seems out of character.
These signs could include them seeming more anxious or depressed, more secretive, having trouble sleeping or have had a recent life event that has resulted in a loss of income.
The Money Advice Service say there are three ways in which you can help family or friends in debt which are:
* Start a conversation – Use your own personal experiences to help get to the bottom of their financial worries, make sure you keep the conversation neutral and non-judgmental.
* Talk to them about free debt advice – Help your friend or family member to understand that free debt advice will help them get their finances back on track. Ask them to make a commitment to seek free debt advice. You could also offer to help them by going along with them
* Use the Money Advice Service – Encourage them to use the Debt test to work out the best option to help them resolve their money worries and find free debt advice in their area.
Penygraig-based Leanne said: “It is a sad fact of modern life that many people are experiencing money problems. With irresponsible pay-day lenders advertising regularly on daytime television, it seems there are more ways than ever to accumulate financial difficulties.
“There is advice out there that is free of charge and there are people willing to help. People may not wish to discuss these problems for whatever reason so I would encourage people to look out for the signs that family members or friends are in financial difficulty.
“Sharing that problem can not only come as big relief to the person in financial difficulty, since suffering alone can lead to all manner of issues, but it can also lead to the first step on clearing that debt. I would encourage anyone in this situation to seek out the services of organisation like the Money Advice Service who can provide free and impartial advice.”
Sheila Wheeler, Director of Debt Advice at the Money Advice Service said: “With one in six people in the UK at risk of a debt crisis, there is a high chance that someone close to us may be struggling with money troubles. We are calling on friends and family to watch out for the signs someone might need help and to support them to access free debt advice as soon as possible.”
For more information visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/debt