Posted November 9, 2021
As part of Talk Money Week, our Head of Contact Centre Operations, Joshua Parkes, highlights the importance of having conversations about money.
Talking about money can be hard, especially when it comes to financial worries. These conversations though are important and can help people make better and less risky financial decisions, know where to get help when facing financial difficulty and, crucially, feel less stressed or anxious and more in control of their situation.
That is why we are supporting Talk Money Week, an initiative run by the Money and Pensions Service to raise awareness of the benefits of having conversations about money with friends and family.
Taking the first step
Talking about your financial situation with a trusted family member or friend is often an important first step when it comes to tackling debt problems.
Seeking help and advice as soon as possible is also key to stopping debts escalating and finding the best option for a safe route out of financial difficulty.
However, we know that talking about problem debt is often a common barrier to seeking help. One in five callers to National Debtline and Business Debtline, take between six months and a year before contacting us, whilst almost a third (29%) of callers wait two years or more. During this time a difficult financial situation can become much worse, adding more stress and worry to an already challenging situation.
Breaking down the barrier of talking about money and encouraging people to seek help when they feel they need it is so important.
The benefits of seeking advice
Last year, 95% of callers to National Debtline said they were clear on their next steps after seeking our advice. This was 96% of callers to Business Debtline said the same.
Almost all callers (97% for National Debtline and 96% for Business Debtline) said that they had followed some or all of the advice they received when they got in touch. Crucially, 9 in 10 callers to National Debtline said that their debts reduced or stabilised after they spoke to our advisers, with 8 in 10 callers to Business Debtline saying that they felt better at business budgeting.
The impact of Covid-19
As we all adapt to the changes that Covid-19 has brought to our day-to-day lives, many people are continuing to deal with the financial impact of the pandemic.
Our research from earlier this year showed that a third (31%) of British adults reported being financially worse off due to the impact of the outbreak on their finances, with almost 5.5 million saying they had fallen behind on one or more household bill or personal credit commitment as a direct result of the crisis. With 17% of British adults reporting that they were losing sleep due to financial worries, it’s clear the impact is not just being felt in peoples’ finances.
Many people will also have been experiencing problem debt before Covid hit, leaving them with little financial resilience to weather the impact.
Nearly two in five (37%) callers to National Debtline already don’t have enough money coming in to cover their basic costs such as council tax and rent. As the emergency support measures introduced during the outbreak end, increasing costs, such as rising energy bills, means many people are facing a tough winter.
Initiatives like Talk Money Week – which encourage people to take that important first step to talk about their finances – are ever more important and we all have a role to play to encourage our friends and family to talk money. This is often the most important first step before getting help from a free, independent debt advice charity, like National Debtline or Business Debtline.
Find out more about the Money and Pensions Service Talk Money Week and how to get involved here.
Joshua Parkes is Head of Contact Centre Operations for the Money Advice Trust, and oversees the day-to-day running of our National Debtline and Business Debtline service.. View all posts from Joshua Parkes.