Fears over soaring debts

A Generic Photo of a woman trying to deal with her credit card debt. See PA Feature FINANCE Finance Column. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FINANCE Finance Column.
A Generic Photo of a woman trying to deal with her credit card debt. See PA Feature FINANCE Finance Column. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FINANCE Finance Column.
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Households in Sheffield are drowning in debts of up to £20,000 each, according to city money advisors.

Just under 250 residents owing a total of £4 million have turned to money management firm Pay Plan for help in the past 12 months.

The union-funded organisation says it has assessed 247 people in Sheffield, who each owe an average of more than £18,000 in unsecured debt on loans, credit cards and overdrafts.

According to its ‘debt map’ of the city, the areas with the highest number of residents struggling to repay borrowed cash are Firth Park and Hillsborough wards.

David Blunkett, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, said: “It’s vital that, along with affordable finance at rates manageable by those under financial strain, we offer advice and help with budgeting.”

Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central, said: “These figures sadly reflect the growing number of people struggling to make ends meet.

“Lots of people in this situation have taken out payday loans and found themselves trapped in spiralling debt because of excessive charges and escalating interest.”

Coun Mazher Iqbal, Sheffield Council cabinet member for communities, said: “We know there are a large number of people in Sheffield struggling financially.

“To help people dealing with problems, such as money and debt, we provide more than £1 million of funding for the Sheffield Citizens Advice service.

“The service helps provide guidance about a variety of money-related issues such as debts, budgeting, mortgage problems and rent arrears.”

Steve Wilcox, a debt advisor with Sheffield’s Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “We’re dealing with increasing numbers of people who have insufficient income to cover even basic essentials such as food.”