‘Debt isn’t something for people to be terrified of - but it can’t be ignored.’
That’s the message from a Calderdale housing association as it urges people to prioritise debts and seek help if they find themselves in trouble.
Budgets can be tight for many people in the months after Christmas. The cost of the festive season can take its toll and debts can mount up as people struggle to pay for the essentials.
Pennine Housing, part of the Together Housing Group, said many people feel overwhelmed by their spending and put payments to credit companies before essential services like rent and utilities.
The group works with a number of agencies across Calderdale to help their tenants understand that their first priority has to be their home.
Janette Pearce, group head of income at Together Housing, said there is lots of support available, but that accessing it had to be a priority: “Our teams, working with many local agencies, have really helped some people turn their fortunes around. We’ve worked with Yorkshire Water to save tenants who were struggling to pay their water bills nearly £27k last year and our work with the Credit Union has meant many tenants have been able to borrow or even put money aside in a safe, manageable way.
“Debt isn’t something for people to be terrified of, but it’s something they mustn’t ignore.
“Our homes are among the most precious things we have, so when we’re juggling money, along with basic food and utilities, rent should always take first place.”
Newground Together, a charity that is part the housing group has also helped fund Calderdale SmartMove, a Halifax-based charity helping homeless and vulnerable people gain skills and support to manage tenancies.
Craig George, SmartMove’s fundraising and relationship manager, said that the problem needs everyone to work together.
“People face pressures from all sides and often they don’t feel they can manage something as complex as money,” he said.
“By supporting them with things like food and furniture while teaching them skills to manage their regular rent payments, SmartMove is helping people change their lives.”
HOW TO GET HELP
Anyone needing free debt advice can contact National Debtline on 0808 808 400 or www.nationaldebtline.org.
StepChange Debt Charity on 0800 138 1111 or www.stepchange.org.
For advice on debts, budgeting and other financial issues, see the Money Advice Service website - www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk
Call SmartMove on 01422 361515.