Doncaster is one of the worst places in the country for victims of debt and credit, according to a new survey.
And one Doncaster woman has revealed she racked up debts of more than £10,000 as a spiral of pay day loans and credit cards ballooned out of control.
People living in the town and seeking help with their personal finances have a higher level of un-secured debt than the national average, according to the latest UK Personal Debt Index.
It found that the average level of unsecured debt for people living in Doncaster is £17,720 - nearly 18% higher than the national average.
Unsecured debt is money that is owed to creditors, but not guaranteed by an asset such as a house – this is most commonly made up of credit cards and payday loans.
One Doncaster woman has spoken of her misery - after she racked up thousands of pounds in debt via pay day loans and credit cards.
Anne*, 29, blames the loneliness of working 130 miles away from home as the catalyst for her downfall.
As a self-employed live-in carer, she had failed to find a job in Doncaster – so was forced to accept a post near Luton, which involved working away for three weeks at a time.
She said: “The way I was working definitely contributed to my debt – not because I was on a bad wage, but rather the poor choices I made while living away from home.
“I was on my own, splitting my time between Doncaster and Luton, and was in a bad place with my mental health because I was isolated. Spending money on material possessions like clothes made me feel better, it made me happy.
“I took out a payday loan to pay for my travel between Doncaster and Luton. At first I could manage the repayments, but then it became a struggle so I got a credit card and the same thing happened. I ended up borrowing even more and my debts grew.”
Anne soon racked up around £10,000 worth of debt and despite trying to get on top of her finances, she still found herself struggling.
“I couldn’t sleep and was anxious all the time, thinking about where I’d get the money to pay back what I owed.”
The PDI figures are compiled quarterly by Creditfix, the UK’s largest insolvency practice, following a survey of more than 36,000 individuals.
The report showed that nearly half of all people in Doncaster seeking help were under the age of 36, with 7.2% aged 20-25 and 42.2% aged 26-35. The PDI did identify a lower number of elderly people seeking help, with the number of people aged over 66 standing at just 1.2%, compared to a national average of 2.7%.
“The higher level of personal debt in Doncaster is a worrying statistic,” said Pearse Flynn, CEO of Creditfix.
“While £17,000 seems like a huge number, it really isn’t difficult for people to rack up this level of debt. Payday loans and credit card bills can become the norm for many people, and if help and advice isn’t sought quickly enough, debt levels can easily spiral out of control.”
The quarterly report showed that individuals in Doncaster were more open about their personal finances with their partners, with zero people hiding debt from their spouse – compared to a the national average of 1.79%.
“Understanding the different demographics and locations of people struggling with their personal finances is important, but an increase in the number of people seeking help shouldn’t instantly be associated as a negative statistic. The first step to getting back control is to speak to someone, whether that be friends and family or professional advice.”
In a last-ditch attempt to become solvent, Anne found Creditfix following an online search.
She said: “Creditfix has helped me a great deal. I gave them all the information and they did the rest – my adviser even helped with a PPI claim. It’s taken a massive weight off my mind, but it’s also taught me to live within my means.”
Anne, who is now fully employed as a life skills instructor in Doncaster, entered into an IVA following debt management and will continue with her IVA for the next four years.
“I plan to finish my IVA and repair my credit rating so that I can take out a mortgage on a new house,” she added.
* Name changed