Why speaking up about money worries really does help

PA/AOL Money
debt advice
debt advice

Three-quarters of people who received debt advice funded by the Government-backed Money Advice Service managed to cut the amount they owed afterwards, research has found.

The MAS also said more than half (52%) of the clients surveyed who had taken up advice had a diagnosed mental health condition such as depression and, in general, many people have seen their overall wellbeing improve after getting help with their finances.

Around 88% of people who had face-to-face help from bodies the MAS gives debt advice funding to in England and Wales went on to take some sort of action afterwards to get back on track, such as setting up a household budget.

Meanwhile, 76% of more than 1,300 people surveyed said they reduced or cleared at least some of their debts within three to six months of receiving advice. One in 16 (6%) paid off their debts in full.

The most common types of debt people had before seeking advice were rent and mortgage arrears, as well as utility bills and credit card debt. Around half (52%) of clients had multiple types of bills or payments they were concerned about.

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Four-fifths (80%) of clients surveyed across the board said they felt more in control of their situation after getting advice, while seven in 10 (71%) felt less stressed and two-thirds (67%) reported they were sleeping better.

The MAS is an independent body set up by Government to offer people across the UK free money tips and help to manage their budgets.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, head of the UK debt advice programme at the MAS, said: "These figures provide further evidence that debt advice really does work.

"If anyone is struggling to pay their bills or feels stressed about their financial situation, they should seek advice immediately. Advice can help you get on top of your debts, and feel better about managing your money.

"Debt advice can be sought at any time. To help you find where to get high quality advice, use the Money Advice Service's debt locator at moneyadviceservice.org.uk/debt."

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Last year, the Service funded debt advice in England and Wales provided by Citizens Advice, Bristol Debt Advice Centre (now known as Talking Money), Capitalise London, Community Finance Solutions, East Midlands Money Advice and the Greater Merseyside Money Advice Project.

Independent research into what clients did after receiving advice took place between November last year and January this year.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "People are falling into a debt trap as the gap between rising bills and stagnant incomes hits household budgets.

"Free, impartial debt advice can stop money problems from spiralling and put people back in control, so it's more important than ever that people know where to turn.

"These figures show the impact that good quality debt advice can have. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you can be back on your feet."

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