The Money Advice Service (MAS) has called for family and friends to be on the lookout for signs that their nearest and dearest are experiencing debt problems, and where they are, to encourage them to seek help.

The MAS, the body founded by the government to offer consumers free assistance with financial issues, remarks that ”debt and money worries are often seen as a taboo subject in the UK, so it is time to get people talking about their money worries and get them to advice earlier to prevent their debts becoming unmanageable.”

It adds that some eight million people in the UK are regularly failing to pay essential bills, or otherwise feel overwhelmed by debt, yet only one fifth of these seek help. This leaves some 6.4 million people – one tenth of the population – who “could be suffering in silence with serious money problems.”

The Service suggests that money worries often build up over time, so some people might not be aware that they have issues until the problem becomes severe. Hence it is calling on family and friends to do their bit to spot the signs of debt problems at an early stage.

The MAS has identified the following as possible signs of debt problems, or impending difficulties in this area:

• Having been in debt in the past
• Experiencing a major life-changing event, such as a loss of income, redundancy, bereavement, illness, divorce or having a child
• Living beyond one’s means – people who seem to always have the latest luxury items without earning the income needed to cover this
• Signs of anxiety or depression, or avoiding socialising
• Not wishing to talk about financial issues
• A change in spending habits – whether this involves reducing or increasing their spending, as both could in different circumstances be an indicator of financial difficulty
• Increased tiredness
• Difficulty in sleeping
• A sudden increase or decrease in weight

The MAS press release then encourages family and friends to start a conversation with people they suspect may be experiencing debt problems, and to encourage them to seek advice. The organization goes on to highlight just how quickly debt problems can be alleviated once someone has taken advice. Within three months of receiving advice:

• 65% are either repaying their debts or have repaid them in full
• 73% say they are less stressed about financial matters
• 62% report that they are sleeping better
• 55% said their physical health had improved
• 69% reported an improvement in their personal relationships

Sheila Wheeler, Director of Debt Advice at the Money Advice Service, said:

“With one in six people in the UK at risk of a debt crisis, there is a high chance that someone close to us may be struggling with money troubles. We are calling on friends and family to watch out for the signs someone might need help and to support them to access free debt advice as soon as possible.

“For people who are experiencing financial difficulties, we want you to know that help is available and you do not need to suffer alone. Friends and family will want to help and support you.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article.