April 2012

New figures emerge on household “transport poverty”

A new analysis by the Office for National Statistics of household transport costs has shown that some 2.25 million households spend more than 25 per cent of their income on travel.

The figures, for 2009/10, emerged following a parliamentary question by Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South.

Transport costs included expenditure such as purchase of vehicles, spares and accessories, fuel, servicing and other motoring expenses, train, bus and coach tickets, air fares, taxis and other transport costs.

Unpaid debt levels revealed in new industry figures

Some £58billion of unpaid consumer debt was in the hands of debt collection agencies by the end of 2011, according to the first set of figures published by the Credit Services Association, the trade body for collection agencies.

The amount of debt that CSA members are working to collect is the equivalent of £1,000 for every man, woman and child in the country.

Foodbank numbers double over the past year

The Trussell Trust, the leading foodbank network, is launching two new centres every week to help the growing number of families who cannot afford their food bills.  It reports that parents are going without meals to feed their children and some are considering stealing food.

The number of people who have been given emergency food parcels has doubled in the past year to almost 130,000, with the number of centres now standing at 201.

Personal insolvencies up 14% in Scotland year on year

Personal insolvencies in Scotland (including bankruptcies and protected trust deeds) have risen by 14% over the past year, according to latest figures from Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB). 

In the first three months of 2012 there were a total of 4,856 personal insolvencies in Scotland.  While bankruptcies dropped slightly (0.2%), the number of protected trust deeds – 2,247 – represented a rise of 43% over the same period the previous year.  

Major campaign launched on PPI mis-selling and claims management company fees

Which? and Moneysavingsexpert.co.uk, in the guise of its founder Martin Lewis, have saturated news and social media with their campaign on payment protection insurance.   The aim is to persuade people who were mis-sold PPI that it is straightforward to claim compensation by themselves, without using the very expensive services (up to 30% of the final settlement) of some claims management companies. 

Debts pile up for unprepared first time mums on maternity leave

Nearly 30% of first time mothers have found themselves in debt - almost £2,500 on average - because of maternity leave, according to a new study by uSwitch.com.  Just a quarter of those surveyed felt they had been financial prepared for the change to motherhood.

Just over 10% said they had gone back to work early because of their financial situation, and a similar number said they had borrowed cash from relatives to get by.  Some 14% had used credit cards, loans and overdrafts to make ends meet.

Mortgage arrears higher in the North

Mortgage arrears for homeowners in the north of England are around 30% higher than in the south, according to latest figures from Standard & Poor’s ratings services.

The overall proportion of borrowers in arrears rose to 3.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011, up from 3.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2010.

However, the rate of mortgage arrears in the north of England was 4.4%, by comparison with 3.4% in the south.

Debt Advice Foundation supports new Youth Contract scheme

A new Government initiative designed to help young unemployed people into work is being supported by Debt Advice Foundation.  The Youth Contract, which launched at the beginning of April, will provide nearly half-a-million new opportunities for 18-24 years olds, including apprenticeships and voluntary work experience placements.

More Scots are worried about their debts than UK average - and almost 10% can only pay interest


Four in ten Scots say they are spending less as they grapple with the rising cost of living, and 20% admit they have no savings to fall back on if unexpected bills come in. Meanwhile almost 10% of those with debts are only able to pay off the interest on their overdraft each month.

Research by R3, the trade body for Insolvency Professionals, found that more than one in three adults in Scotland expect their financial situation to deteriorate over the next six months.

Negative perceptions stop millions on low pay from claiming benefits, according to new research launching Benefits Awareness Month

A new survey of people on low incomes (less than £15,000 a year) has revealed a stark picture of their attitudes towards claiming benefits.  More than a third believe that benefits claimants should help themselves rather than rely on state support – and more than one in eight said they would rather cut back on essentials like food than claim benefits.