Hundreds of people in Shrewsbury have spiralling debts worth almost £20,000, a shocking new report from the UK’s leading debt charity revealed today .
A total of 389 people in the Shrewsbury area contacted the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) helpline for free advice in 2011, the latest figures show.
According to the charity, these Shrewsbury residents owed an average of £19,514 in unsecured debt – 8.6 per cent higher than the UK average of £17,983. Telford, in comparison, owed just £16,839 on average.
The charity has warned the financial squeeze is limiting residents’ ability to meet their debt repayments, with the average struggling debtor from Shrewsbury having just £20 left over after meeting basic living expenses each month.
The numbers of local people wanting debt advice has fallen slightly from a five year high in 2010, but has still seen a 17 per cent rise since 2007 when 332 people needed help.
Delroy Corinaldi, CCCS director of external affairs, told the Chronicle he worries many people in the town are at risk of debt spiralling out of control.
He said: “With debt levels in Shrewsbury higher than the UK average and many residents having little if any money available to meet their repayments, I am concerned that a large number of people in the area are at risk of falling into a serious debt problem.
“No-one should have to struggle with debt alone – the most important step you can take is to seek free advice as soon as you start to fall behind.”
Heather Keates, from Minsterley, is CEO for Community Money Advice and also runs debt clinics in Meole Brace and at the Barnabus Community Church in Longden Coleham.
She said there had been a 100 per cent increase in people wanting to use their weekly services in the past 18 months.
“I have to say the picture in Shrewsbury and Shropshire is not great in terms of people wanting help.
“So much in the way of service industries have gone and the council cuts are likely to be felt soon so we are seeing a whole range of people coming in who have hit rock bottom.
“We’ve seen a lot more people come through than perhaps other places because it doesn’t have the infrastructure to deal with it and it’s not considered to be a needy place.”
She added: “It sounds awfully pessimistic but until the economy starts picking up and jobs are created we expect demand to continue to rise.”