1. ITV Report

Dramatic rise in debt worries in the North West

Debt problems on the rise Photo: PA

There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people in the North West seeking help for debt problems, according to new figures from StepChange Debt Charity. Last year, 19,025 North West residents contacted the charity's helpline, up from 13,309 in 2012, an increase of 43 percent.

The charity's figures show people contacting the charity from the North West are struggling to make ends meet, and have, on average, just £4 left each month after covering their essential household bills. Last year, people from the North West who contacted the charity's helpline owed an average of £12,881 in unsecured debt.

Danger signs of debt

The findings are released to coincide with the charity's Debt Awareness Week (January 20-26), which aims to raise awareness of the potential signs of debt problem and encourage people to seek advice earlier.

StepChange Debt Charity is urging to people to recognise that they may have a debt problem if they are doing any of the following:

  • juggling or falling behind on essential household bills
  • getting hit by late payments or overdraft charges
  • borrowing more to pay off existing debts
  • only making minimum repayments
  • borrowing to make it through to pay day

Mike O'Connor, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity said: "Debt can have a devastating effect on people's lives in the form of mental health issues and family breakdown. We need people to take early action to prevent some of the worst effects and get back on their financial feet much sooner".