'An out of control situation': Woman's overnight journey into debt after losing 85% of her income

  • Victoria describes the profound impact on her sense of self when her financial circumstances dramatically changed

A woman from Leicestershire says she found herself "spiralling into an out of control situation" when her income suddenly dropped by 85% overnight.

Victoria Frost had previously been on a good income, but was forced to give up her job after she fell ill.

This dramatic change meant she couldn't keep up with bills.

She said: "When you've earned a lot of money, and then all of a sudden you can't work any more, it's not just your lifestyle that changes, it's your identity as well.

"When you've got mental health mixed up with that it's very dangerous."

She came across debt charity Melton and District Money Advice Centre, where she said she experienced a huge sense of relief.

"It became a chaos that I couldn't organise or control, and for someone who is quite organised and controlled that's a very difficult place to be in," she said.

"I literally put it all in a big pile and I just said 'can you make some sense of that for me please?' And that's what happened."

She also managed to negotiate an affordable bill with her supplier - without this, she fears, "it would have been very, very dark".

But that's a worry she now has for others since the energy price cap has been lifted, and hopes they'll be able to access the support that she did.

The centre in Melton Mowbray used to get around 20 referrals a month, but this has now doubled to over 40.

Manager Amanda Heath said: "Years ago people had disposable income and money to spare to pay off debts and cover essential bills. 

"Now more people are living in negative budgets - there isn't enough income to cover basic essential items like rent, council tax, gas, electric, or TV, so something has got to go, so it's heat versus eat. 

"Do I put the heating on? Have I got money for food? How am I going to buy the school uniform?

"The kettle breaks and there's no money spare, people are feeling quite desperate nowadays."

A spokesperson for Ofgem, the energy regulator, says they've faced unprecedented challenges as gas prices rise, and they're working to stabilise the market.

The Chancellor has also promised a £200 rebate on energy bills from October.