The OFT’s Debt Counselling Service says its number of new clients is at a seven year high and that buying on the ‘never-never’ remains a perennial problem.

The OFT’s headlines for the 2017 calendar year are:-

 

  • During 2017 as a whole, the OFT’s debt counsellors helped 177 new clients – the highest number in any of the last seven years.

 

  • During the last three months of 2017, 49 new clients were helped – the highest number of new clients assisted in any quarter in the last five years.

 

  • The cumulative debt for new clients (i.e. that owed by all of the new 2017 clients in total) amounted to £2,608,059, with the three most significant proportions of this aggregate figure being owed on credit cards (25.7%), personal loans (17.9%) and bank loans/overdrafts (10%).

 

  • The average debt owed by each of the new clients of 2017 was £14,735.

 

  • Debt owed on credit cards continued to make up the single most significant proportion of the cumulative 2017 debt. This has now been the case for 13 consecutive years.

 

  • Bad budgeting, including making purchases on the ‘never-never’, is perennially the most significant debt trigger. Using a credit card and having an account with a catalogue are examples of paying on the ‘never-never’.

Over last five years, the average credit card debt has been just short of £4,200 and the average catalogue debt has been just short of £1,000.

It is important to note that some clients have had more than one credit card or catalogue debt.

Chairman of the OFT, Martyn Perkins MHK said:-

“It is obvious that many people get into debt through bad budgeting, including buying on the ‘never-never’. People should think twice before using their credit cards and/or running up catalogue debts. Store card offers often appear too good to be true and can be another serious source of debt.

“Getting into debt can be extremely stressful. I would encourage people who think that they may be overstretching their finances to contact OFT’s Debt Counselling Service as soon as possible before debt becomes a burden.”

In the context of the above, “debt” includes both secured and unsecured debt.

The amounts owed include mortgage arrears but generally not the amounts outstanding on mortgages.

The figures should not by any means be interpreted as a measure of the indebtedness of residents of the Isle of Man. They merely reflect the profiles and circumstances of those people who have chosen to make use of the OFT’s debt counselling service.

To contact the OFT’s Debt Counselling Service: