Cash-strapped South Tyneside has the second-highest level of personal debt in England, a shock new report reveals.
Statistics show that 607 clients visited the borough’s Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) between July and September last year, with debt-related concerns.
Concern over debt now accounts for a staggering 42 per cent of that bureau’s workload.
A new national CAB report also reveals that South Tyneside has the fourth-highest level of personal debt in England and Wales.
However, when two Welsh authorities are taken out of the equation, it emerges as the second worst debt-hit area in England – just behind Stoke-on-Trent.
Ian Thompson, chief executive of South Tyneside CAB, based at the Edinburgh Buildings in South Shields, revealed that priority debt, such as rent and Council Tax, had spiralled in recent years.
Meanwhile, advice workers are expecting a further surge in demand for the service this month as borough residents begin to count the cost of Christmas spending.
Mr Thompson revealed that debt-related problems are so great that some clients in the past have committed suicide as an escape from them.
The seriousness of the situation has led him to write a letter to every elected member on South Tyneside Council, outlining the situation and his concerns.
Mr Thompson said:
“We know there is an awful lot of debt in the borough.
“Forty two per cent of our work is working with clients with debt problems.
“That’s a staggering figure when you consider that we deal with a whole range of issues, ranging from employment to housing and much more besides.
“The sort of debt we are encountering has changed during my time with the bureau, from credit card debt and to priority debts, such as Council Tax arrears and rent arrears.
“These are life-changing, priority debts which can lead to people losing the roof over their heads.
“Unmanageable debt causes untold misery and can require the intervention of GPs for the treatment of depression.
“We have also had, as an extreme example, clients committing suicide because of the pressures they are under.
“From mid-January we are expecting a surge in the need for debt-related advice. Prior to Christmas, people tend not to think too much about debt – then the bills and credit card demands start to arrive.”
Top of CAB’s personal debt chart for England and Wales are two Welsh authorities – Denbighshire and Merthyr Tydfil.
In the North East the other worst-hit authorities are Darlington (5th), North Tyneside (8th), Gateshead (12th) and Middlesbrough (13th).
Source – Shields Gazette, 15 Jan 2015
Funerals are becoming so expensive people are burying their dead in the back garden says South Shields’ MP.
Labour’s Emma Lewell-Buck claims people are holding “do it yourself” funerals with rising costs putting even a basic service out of many families’ reach.
She made the announcement at the House of Commons this afternoon as she proposed a bill calling for a review of funeral costs and for providers to offer an affordable, simple service.
Mrs Lewell-Buck told MPs:
“People are also turning to alternatives to the traditional funeral. Some are holding do-it-yourself funerals, and even having to bury relatives in their back garden. A number of companies are offering cut-price funerals, including “direct” cremations that have no formal service attached to them.
“Increasingly, bereaved individuals who simply cannot afford a formal service are faced with having to opt for a public health funeral, or what used to be referred to as a pauper’s funeral.”
Research published by Royal London shows that one in five households struggle to afford the cost of a basic funeral. In order to make up the shortfall many take on credit card debt, sell possessions or even turn to payday lenders. The report also shows that funeral costs are rising, with the average service now costing £3,551.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said:
“Funeral poverty is on the rise in Britain, as costs go up while household budgets continue to be stretched. The last thing a bereaved person needs is money worries, but increasingly people are getting in to debt to afford a decent send-off for those they care about.
“People understandably don’t like to talk about these issues, and struggling to pay for a funeral can be an isolating and upsetting experience. That’s why politicians need to speak up about this issue, and why I hope MPs will support my call for a funeral poverty bill.”
> Well, that’s unrestrained capitalism for you. Screw every penny out of you when you’re alive, and death is just another money-making opportunity.
Source – Shields Gazette, 09 Dec 2014