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UK Wide Debt Advice Charity
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E-mail: contact@debtsupporttrust.org.uk

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January Sales Can't Drive Shoppers

Number of shoppers continues to fall on high street in spite of January sales

The high street again saw less people shopping there despite the lure of the January sales as recent figures revealed footfall had dropped 0.9 per cent last month compared to the corresponding month in 2011.

More shoppers than ever are heading for out of town retail parks which is putting more pressure on a hard pressed high street. Those figures tend to indicate supermarkets and out of town retail parks enjoyed the bulk of the surprise 0.9 per cent rise in sales volumes in January which were announced last week by the Office for National Statistics.

The figures revealed December was an excellent month for the high street where they enjoyed a 5.1 per cent increase in traffic. However retailers had brought forward some of their special offers to maximise their turnover before Christmas diluting the impact on the high street for the January sales. Worryingly the report also found an average of 11 per cent of town centre shops were boarded up in January 2012.

Director General for the British Retail Consortium Stephen Robertson admitted the condition of many high streets was "still bleak". He said: "Worries about personal finances and job security are putting people off shopping. Although inflation has started to ease, costs are still rising faster than wages."

"At the start of 2012, footfall numbers dipped again, showing underlying caution hasn't changed"

Research director for Springboard, Diane Wehrle , said out-of town shopping was growing in popularity because consumers were fed up with car-parking charges.

Credit Card Debt Help

Whilst the number of people shopping on the high street is declining there are still people struggling with credit card debt problems from shopping. There are a number of debt solutions available however people need to know where to turn for help.

There are debt solutions to your money worries it's about finding to correct route to resolve your debt problem.

The solutions which exist will depend on your personal and financial situation. Call 0800 085 0226 to speak to Debt Support Trust, a debt advice charity or visit the How Can We Help page for information on the availabe debt solutions.

Monday, February 20, 2012
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Lloyds Claw Back Funds

 

Lloyds claw back £2m in executive bonuses

Former chief executive Eric Daniels and 12 other senior members within the Lloyds banking group are to have their bonuses cut by £2 million.

Mr Daniels bonus was cut by 40% meaning he will lose £580,000 from his original £1.45m. A further four directors saw their bonuses sliced by £190,000 to "260,000. Whilst another eight executives had bonuses cut meaning they will receive approximately £100,000 less.

The reason stated for the claw back in bonuses is due to the banks mis-selling of payment protection insurance.  Due to the mis-sold payment protection insurance Lloyds have been forced to put aside a staggering £3.2bn in order to cover compensation to its customers.

In a statement Lloyds said it was making an adjustment to a proportion of the bonus award for 2010, because if it had been aware of the mis-selling and the cost of putting it right, the bonus pool and awards from it would have been reduced.

The cuts in bonuses will be made with a reduction in the amounts previously awarded in deferred shares. This will also have an impact on bonuses for 2011 which will also be lower than projected.

This is a ground breaking move from Lloyds as this is the first time a UK bank has clawed back bonuses awarded to its executives as a result of a worse than expected financial performance.

This may not be the last claw back seen as the Financial Services Authority and politicians are applying pressure for some bonuses to be returned following the banking crisis of 2008.

Response to the News

As the first British bank who have experienced this unusual decision the response from the public has been supportive of the decision. People are questioning why bankers should receive such a large bonus for mis-selling. It's clear this puts out a strong message against practices such as mis-selling for the future.

Monday, February 20, 2012
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CCC Debt Management

There are three rules for entering a debt management solution and we've listed them in our CCC debt management process. The Three-C's of debt management (CCC Debt Management) include

  • Complete
  • Clear
  • Careful

CCC Debt Management: Complete advice

You should always ensure you are receiving complete advice. This means completing a full income and expenditure taking between 15 and 30 minutes. The income and expenditure would include taking any income (pay, child tax credits etc) into account. Your expenditure would include your rent/ mortgage, gas, electricity, council tax, telephone bills etc.

Anybody providing debt advice which meets the CCC debt management process should also review your assets. If you have equity within your property then this must be taken into account too. Any equity would potentially need to be included within your solution. If you equity is low or you have negative equity then you will not have any available equity to contribute and you will be able to keep your house.

Finally, complete debt advice should review which creditors you owe money to, how much you owe each creditor and how much your current contractual payments are. Once this information has been completely gathered a debt advice charity can determine what debt solutions you are applicable for. Only after gathering your financial statement should you receive debt advice.

CCC Debt Management: be Clear

The advice you receive should be clear to meet the CCC debt management process. Any debt advice charity should explain all available debt solutions and detail the pros and cons of each debt solution.  The pros and cons should include the length of time you will be in the debt solution, the fees involved, what will happen to your assets and whether your credit rating will be affected.

If you don't understand anything you are being explained, ask the advisor to go over the solution again. It's important you understand and are clear on each debt solution.

CCC Debt Management: be Careful

The final piece of advice for anybody entering seeking debt advice is to be careful. Some debt solution companies will charge you for their services. You can get free debt advice and debt management plans from a variety of organisations. If you would prefer face to face advice we recommend the Citizens Advice Bureau.

CCC Debt Help

Debt Support Trust follows our Complete, Clear and Careful process for anybody struggling with debt. You can receive debt help from Debt Support Trust by telephoning 0800 085 0226 or visit our contact us page.

Sunday, February 19, 2012
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Debt Problems: Retailers Suffer

Retailers continue to suffer throughout 2011 with the closure of 14 stores per day

A report commissioned by PwC (insolvency practitioners) from the Local Data Company (LDC) highlighted the difficulties being faced by retailers in 2011 with an average of more than 14 stores per day closing for business.

The report covered multiple retailers in 500 town centres throughout the UK and revealed there had been a net reduction of 174 shops in 2011 which is a decrease of 0.25%.

The report also revealed that not all sectors suffered with charity shops in particular showing strong growth. There is however calls for the amount of charity shops to be capped in city centres due to their expanding presence having a detrimental impact on the high street.

Bakers, pound shops, credit unions and supermarket chains like Tesco Metro have also bucked the trend showing positive growth in a difficult market.

The data revealed worst hit sectors included, home furnishings, bookshops, electrical, menswear, bars/pubs, off-licences and travel shops as people's finances continue to struggle with the rising cost of living. The worst sectors overall were both bookshops and electrical stores due to increased completion from online businesses increasing their share of the market.

PwC insolvency partner Mike Jervis said: "A common feature of retailers in distress who we are dealing with is that they have too many locations. Relatively long leases have been entered into in a growth phase of the economy which are no longer appropriate".

In a statement from Local Data Company, director Matthew Hopkinson said: "With the move to out of town locations and the numbers of closures being announced currently, this decline is likely to continue into 2012 and thus lead to a rise in vacancy rates".

The prospects for high street retails in 2012 looks equally bleak with many Britons finding they have less disposable income due to stunted wage increases, high inflation and government austerity measures.

With unemployment continuing to rise, this can have the knock on effect of creating insecurity which in turn makes people think twice before spending what spare cash they have.

Friday, February 17, 2012
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Housing Rent On The Increase


Latest data figures released by LSL Property Services who own the UK's largest letting agent network revealed rents rose in January for the first time in four years. Supply and demand have been blamed with a higher than average number of tenants looking for a limited number of properties.

LSL Property Services claim the average rent in England and Wales increased by 0.1% to £712 per month in January 2012, representing an annual rise of £30. Whilst the increase is small, it is the first increase since the index was compiled in 2008 and was the first monthly rise in three months.

Rental Costs Across Regions

The increases in rents did not affect all regions however with regions in the east of England and Wales seeing falls of 1.7% and 1.5% respectively. However the West midlands and the south-west saw increases of 1.8% and 1.5% respectively. In London, rents increased by 0.8%, where they have only fallen once in the last 13 months.

LSL Property Services director, David Newnes commented: "Lettings agents had already seen a higher than normal level of competition for properties over the Christmas period, and this activity had not abated".

He continued: "The rental market burst back into life unseasonably early in January, with tenants on the move trying to take advantage of what is usually a quieter period for the rental market.

"Mortgage lending has shown signs of improving in recent months, but transactions remain at almost half their historic levels and the increasing dependency on rental accommodation will drive further rent rises over the long term."

Data released by LSL also revealed rental arrears remained high in January with 10.7% of all rent late or unpaid at the end of the month. The figure was largely unaltered from December 2011 but higher than the average of 10.2% in the previous 12 months.

Rental and Debt Advice

The increased cost of renting your property can place an additional pressure on paying your unsecured debts. Rent or your mortgage would be a priority (as is gas, electricity and council tax).

When people have debt problems they should seek appropriate debt help from a debt advice charity. Debt Support Trust can be telephoned on 0800 085 0226.

Friday, February 17, 2012
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Changes to Bailiffs

 

Ministry of Justice propose changes to the Bailiff industry

The Ministry of Justice have proposed changes in the law governing bailiffs in England and Wales by the way of the creation of a code of conduct.

The proposals come as a result of rogue practices and a general bad reputation within the industry. Many firms have welcomed the move of a regulatory body being formed with a clear complains process to help build the reputation of the industry in general.

The exact detail is expected shortly however, it is broadly expected to include a new regulatory body which will oversee the industry in addition to a point of contact for debtors with complaints regarding bailiffs. It will also be a source of information for people who want to know what bailiffs can and cannot charge.

The new proposals will also include a strict ban on the use of force, and will clearly outline what items cannot be taken from homes by bailiffs. With people falling upon hard time's councils, companies and courts use the services of bailiffs more than ever in order to collect money owed to them.

As a result of high demand for the services of bailiffs there has been a massive increase in complaints surrounding the practices of a minority within the industry. The industry has drawn the attention of the government as a result, who fear there is insufficient protection for people from rogue practices and aggressive bailiffs.

Justice Minister Jonathan Djanogly told the BBC, the government had heard of rogue bailiffs carrying out "very bad behaviour".

He continued: " I mean knocking on people's doors in the middle of the night, going to people's homes when there are only children in, but a lot of it is to do with the fact that a lot of people don't know what to expect. If we have a code backed up by statute, where people know where they stand, then we think that a lot of these problems will go away."

The law differs in Scotland and Northern Ireland where they do not have bailiffs however individuals and companies are appointed by the court to recover debts. In England and Wales a court certificate is required to allow bailiffs to operate.

Debt Advice and Bailiffs

There are many misconceptions about what bailiffs can and cannot do. For instance, a bailiff can't force their way into your house. However if your door is left open they can enter.

If you need help because of debt problems with bailiffs you should contact a debt advice charity. For face to face help contact your local citizens advice bureau. Debt Support Trust can offer advice and support by telephoning 0800 085 0226.

For information about possible debt solutions visit our debt solutions page.

Friday, February 17, 2012
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Debt Advice: Netmums Statistics

 

Latest Survey Show More People Than Ever Living On The Edge

A survey released today by Netmums details the conditions many families are finding themselves living in Austerity Britain 2012.

In a survey of over 2000 members, an alarming 70% are living "on the edge" of surviving, with many families teetering on the edge of poverty.

Within the study nearly two thirds of families have less household income this year compared to last, with over 60% of people surveyed short of money every week. 200 families require an extra £20 per week to make ends meet; over 330 families need £50 with 100 in need of £100 each week to cover their costs.

debtworry

Living On The Edge: The Statistics

The study also revealed over half the families surveyed (over 1000 families) admitted they were living on the edge. Those families who find themselves in this position are called 'Ledgers' meaning it would only take one more increase in expenditure or a decrease in income for them to experience hardship.

A real concern is a further 15% of people said they had become desperate with debts piling up. One in 33 of those surveyed stated they felt 'suicidal' and 'unable to cope' with the pressures of their circumstances and cannot see how their financial position will improve. On a survey of over 2000 people this equates to over 60 people who feel so desperate about their circumstances they feel suicidal.

If the figure of one in 33 people feeling suicidal due to their financial situation was expressed across the UK population it would mean over 2 million people were feeling 'suicidal' and 'unable to cope'.

The survey also produced alarming statistics detailing how many families are covering income shortfalls of everyday living.

Nearly a third of those surveyed have borrowed from friends and family, a quarter are living on credit cards, with one in 20 having taken out a bank loan to cover everyday living.

As typical lines of credit dry up a worrying trend has also developed with 5% of those surveyed taking out regular payday loans to make ends meet, while one in 100 admitted to resorting to loan sharks and illegal lenders.

The figures revealed in the latest survey are deeply worrying. With no visible improvement forecast in the foreseeable future it is imperative families maximise any benefits they may be entitled to, ensure they are getting the cheapest deals available from utility companies etc in addition to seeking debt advice as quickly as possible.

Need Money Advice

There are many trustworthy debt advice organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau for face to face advice or charities such as Debt Support Trust who can offer immediate telephone and internet advice.

Thursday, February 16, 2012
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Glasgow City Debt Advice

 

"Glasgow City" providing debt advice

It's been revealed that a for profit debt advice company is telephoning people in Glasgow and offering Protected Trust Deeds as "Glasgow City".

The cold-calling firm is introducing their service as "Glasgow City" despite being known as another name. The tactic which is presumed to mislead consumers in debt has been reported from a variety of sources.

Glasgow City Debt Advice

Mistaking "Glasgow City" with "Glasgow City Council" is understandable. This ploy automatically gains an element of trust for the caller on the other end of the telephone to enable them to make a sale.

Opportunistic companies seeking indebted individuals for the benefit of their balance sheet are not only providing unethical, misleading debt advice - they are in fact breaking the rules.  The information which is bought by a data organisation will not come directly from Glasgow City Council.

David from Baillieston, Glasgow said; "Glasgow City called me out of the blue and said 'We know you have debt and we want to help you'. I thought it was Glasgow City Council so I gave them my information. Afterwards, I asked about Glasgow City Council and if they were telephoning everybody, this is where I was told they weren't actually Glasgow City Council but Glasgow City. I hung the phone up straight away."

David decided to telephone a debt advice charity to share his experience and seek debt help. "Glasgow City" continues to telephone people who are in debt and offer to provide them with debt solutions such as a protected trust deed or debt management plan. Debt advice should include a complete income and expenditure and review your assets and liabilities. As an increasing level of people seek debt help it's important to review the organisations capable of providing honest, high quality advice.

Glasgow City Council does provide money advice but they will not cold-call you to offer and help with your debt problems. Click here for Debt Advice in Glasgow.

Debt Advice Tips

Our debt advice tips include;

-          When speaking to a debt advice company / charity always ask upfront what they will do to help you

-          Ensure your data and information is safe and confidential

-          Find out how they make their money to provide the service

-          Ask if they have a consumer credit licence. If the company does not then they are not licenced to provide debt advice. You may wish to check this on the Office of Fair Trading website

These tips can help you when speaking to any debt advice organisation. If you don't receive the answers you would expect then consider whether you would want to provide further information.

Accurate Debt Advice

Receiving accurate debt advice can often be a challenge, however we would always recommend speaking with a not for profit charity. If you would prefer face to face debt advice we would recommend the Citizens Advice Bureau. For telephone advice you can contact Debt Support Trust on 0800 085 0226.

There are a number of debt solutions which may provide you with advice and support. These debt solutions can be found on our How Can We Help page.

Thursday, February 16, 2012
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Student Loan Changes

The Government had planned to impose a penalty on students who paid back their student loan early, however the Government has now dropped this idea, as fears grow that thousands of people would be landed with unfair charges.

The Government planned to put an annual charge of around 5% on overpayments.This would have prevented the 'better off' students being able to pay the loan off quicker and avoid paying as much on interest charges and repayments

It is believed David Cameron has put a stop to the proposal, first created by the Liberal Democrats.

A spokesman for Downing Street confirmed that the repayment penalties were no longer going to happen. "The consultation has now closed and we will come forward with our response shortly," he said.

As from September, students are able to take out loans to cover their annual tuition fees of up to £9,000. The loan will only start to be eligible for repayment when the person earns over £21,000 a year and after 30 years any balance left will be written off.

Lib Dem Proposal

This idea came from the Liberal Democrats and was named "graduate tax". The idea was that those who profited most from their university education would pay higher fees.

To prevent wealthier graduates opting out the scheme the idea was to fine them 5% of the value of early repayments.

Ministers are expected to formally announce next week that the plan has been axed, after consultation with the idea; the criticism arose for putting more financial burden on the already financially-squeezed middle classes.

Despite fierce Conservative opposition, it is thought that David Cameron helped eased the situation of rejection by allowing Vince Cable  to appoint Professor Les Ebdon as head of the Office for Fair Access.

"The Liberal Democrats were very keen to appoint Ebdon, and we felt very strongly about penalties for early repayment of loans. This is hopefully good news for tens of thousands of families, as well as many Conservative MPs who had raised concerns about the penalties," a spokesman for Downing Street said.

Some MPs want David Cameron to overrule Cable, as there is unrest over the appointment of Ebdon even though there has been a reversal on early repayment penalties.

"The scrapping of repayment penalties is very welcome but it's still not a great political deal as Ebdon has the potential to do real damage to our country's education system," one Conservative said.

Ebdon, vice chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire, has caused unrest amongst some due to his non-traditional ideas such as degrees in fashion design, or widening student intake at highly academic universities He has also threatened "nuclear option" to those universities that don't increase the number of student from poorer backgrounds..

 

Thursday, February 16, 2012
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Authors

Debt Support Trust provides a wide range of information throughout our website and debt blog. In our money news section we provide the latest financial news covering a range of subjects from PPI to debt and money advice.

Whilst our blog is written solely by Debt Support Trust, we allow respected individuals from the debt industry to feature on our money news section. Authors include

 

Author: Stuart Carmichael

Company: Debt Support Trust

Address: 112 Cornwall Street South, Kinning Park, Glasgow, UK, G41 1AA

Telephone: 0800 085 0226

Monday, February 13, 2012
Debt Support Trust
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