THE number of residents seeking help for debt problems has increased by more than a third, a charity has claimed.
Last year, almost 1,700 people in Chester approached debt charity StepChange, up 39 per cent from 1,218 in 2012 to 1,696 in 2013.
The charity’s figures show people contacting the charity from the Chester area are struggling to make ends meet and have on average just £14 left each month after covering their essential household bills.
Those from the area who contacted the charity’s helpline owed an average £13,195 in unsecured debt.
The findings have been released to coincide with the charity’s Debt Awareness Week, which aims to raise awareness of the potential signs of debt problem and encourage people to seek advice earlier.
StepChange is urging people to recognise they may have a debt problem if they are juggling or falling behind on essential household bills, or borrowing to make it through to payday.
Other warning signs are making just the minimum repayments on your debts, borrowing more to pay off existing debts and getting hit by late payments or overdraft charges.
StepChange chief executive Mike O’Connor said: “Debt can have a devastating effect on people’s lives in the form of mental health issues and family breakdown.
“We need people to take early action to prevent some of the worst effects and get back on their financial feet much sooner.”
For more information about StepChange and Debt Awareness Week visit stepchange.org.
To contact the free phone helpline call 0800 138 1111 from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to 4pm on Saturday.
See full story in the Chester Leader