Rising debt – and what to do about it

MANY more people in Somerset are finding that, due to the cost of living crisis, there’s just not enough money to go round to meet all their household bills.

In 2023, Citizens Advice Somerset helped more than 3,000 people (400 more than in the previous year) with debt problems and the numbers keep on rising. This reflects the national picture where it is estimated that some five million people have higher outgoings than income – a negative budget that worsens each month.

The top debt issue in the county continues to be council tax where Citizens Advice Somerset saw a big increase in the number of people looking for advice.

One client recently helped to get debt free said: “It has given me hope for a brighter future. I didn’t realise how deep I was in, until I was drowning.”

Rhoda Cooke, Operations Manager, said: “First of all, you need to know you’re not alone. There is help available and there are some basic things you can do now to start putting yourself back in control:

“Make a list of all your debts and the details of each: at first it might be a bit overwhelming to see them written down but remember this is the first step in sorting them out.

“Prioritise paying rent or mortgage, energy bills and council tax. Not paying these has the most serious consequences.

“Check out the Citizens Advice website (www.citizensadvice.org.uk) and search for our handy guide ‘Start dealing with your debts’. You can also find useful tips on incomings and outgoings in our guides on ‘How to reduce living costs’ and ‘Other ways to increase your income’.

“Finally, you can always contact Citizens Advice Somerset for help on finding a way forward.” Free, independent and confidential advice can be accessed from Citizens Advice Somerset by visiting their website www.citizensadvicesomerset.org.uk