Don’t blame Christmas for debt problems, says charity on its busiest day

CHRISTMAS is unfairly blamed for the influx of people needing debt help in January, says a charity.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) says that today (January 28) it expects to have its busiest day on record as the number of people ringing for its free debt counselling reaches its annual peak.

Sarah Blackaby, manager of the Saffron Walden CAP centre, said that the influx is not just caused by the festivities alone.

“It is simplistic to think people have done too much shopping at Christmas and then call organisations like ours for help in January,” she said.

“Many of the situations I see are very serious. People fear losing their homes and creditors are constantly on the phone causing enormous stress – that doesn’t happen overnight.”

The Saffron Walden centre, which is run in partnership with the New Life Church, gives a face-to-face free service where every client is seen in their own home.

They get the chance to talk through difficulties, often built up over a long period of joblessness, or low income, sometimes mixed with other issues like relationship breakdown or illness in the family.

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CAP then gets to work negotiating with creditors to stop interest payments while helping the client to budget and stick to a repayment plan or explore insolvency options.

During the year, most people call the centralised booking line on a Monday. The busiest day of the year is expected to be January 28, the nearest Monday to last year’s busiest day, January 30.

“When the New Year comes along, people long for that fresh start, to find some order and, over Christmas, they’ve had time to find the courage to do it,” adds Sarah.

“Also, many of the professionals who recommend our services such as council tax or housing officers, return to work following the break which serves to make it a busier time as they deal with a seasonal backlog.”

• To find out more about CAP’s free debt counselling, visit or call 0800 328 0006