WHEN John Kyle gets a demand for money through the post, he just throws it in a black bin liner by his bed.
“It’s common,” says John, 25, who is nearly £10,000 in debt. He has a bag full of final demands piling up.
He is one of more than two and a half million Britons in serious debt, according to experts.
But only half of them are getting help, Tonight reporter Adam Shaw discovers.
Households are borrowing more than £1 billion a month in a spending spree that’s fuelling a dangerous debt bubble.
The amount of debt we’re in is reaching levels last seen in the Credit Crunch of 2008.
John’s debt problems started early.
When I became 18, I found out about phone contracts. Walk in with your card, you’ll walk out with a £600 phone.”
We asked online self-help forum Consumer Action Group to help John with his debts. Now John says he is determined to get himself out of trouble.
Buy Today, Pay Tomorrow - on ITV at 7.30pm - also follows a raid by the Illegal Money Lending Team on a suspected loan shark in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire.
Tony Quigley tells the programme that loan sharks: “get rich on the backs of people who can least afford it."
I was going to kill myself. I couldn’t see any other way out of it.”
Many believe there is still a stigma attached to admitting you’re in debt.
But Ricky Willis documented his family’s money problems and is now operating a website “Skint Dad” which offers advice and tips on how to tackle debt.
Ricky and family have now cleared 90% of their £40,000 debt after three-and-a-half years of scrimping and saving.
Reporter Adam Shaw also talks to StepChange, the UK’s largest specialist debt advice charity.
The average caller to the charity has £14,000 of unsecured debt, yet only has £58 disposable cash at the end of each month to tackle it.
Chief Executive Mike O’Connor is concerned that people on lower incomes will struggle over the next couple of years with inflation predicted to rise faster than wages.
There is advice out there with a number of charities who can help you. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Don't suffer on your own.”
For further help and advice if you are struggling with debt problems please contact one of the following agencies for free advice:
Payplan - free debt advice and free debt management plans
Citizens Advice - free independent, confidential and impartial advice
Consumer Action Group - free advice and support forums run by experts
Debt Advice Foundation - debt charity offering free confidential advice
National Debtline - free debt advice
Christians Against Poverty - free debt help
And if you're a victim of loan sharks visit the Illegal Money Lending Team for advice or call 0300 555 2222.
Buy Today, Pay Tomorrow? is on ITV this evening at 7.30pm