Help is at hand if you feel yourself being swamped by debt over Christmas and New Year

Everyone is being urged to get help and support on money and debt worries before they fall into serious debt.

The current energy crisis, ongoing pandemic and Christmas spending may see more people struggling financially.

With rising energy costs, keeping your home warm over winter will also cost people more money.

Councillor John Shaw, convener of finance, resources and customer service for Renfrewshire Council, said it is important to reach out for help and support as early as possible.

Only 58% of part-time workers earn enough to qualify for a workplace pension
Debt and bills can pile up – but help is available
(Image: Getty Images)

“Christmas can be a stressful time of the year. Most of us feel the same pressure to spend money on presents, food and celebrating with loved ones.

“Add on the energy crisis – with rising energy costs and people being moved to other suppliers – as well as the continued pandemic, and it is easy to feel that money is slipping out of your fingers.

“There is help and support available and I urge anyone who is struggling with money now, or thinks they will in the near future, to get in touch with our advice works or energy advocacy team. Our advisers can help you find the right support for you.

“If you are worried about your money, how you will pay bills or what you can do about changing energy supplier, please get in touch with your advisers. We are here to help you.”

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With Christmas and New Year celebrations, people are more likely to find themselves struggling financially and are more likely to fall into debt.

Advice Works is a free, confidential and independent service funded by Renfrewshire Council that offers benefits and money advice to residents of Renfrewshire.

Lynne Kerr, from Advice Works, said: “Christmas puts pressure on people to buy gifts for family and friends, which often aren’t needed or wanted.

“There are more opportunities to socialise which can be expensive, and parents want to give their children a Christmas to remember. All these things combined can really put a strain on your finances.”

Her best tip for this time of year – even thinking ahead to Christmas 2022 – is to plan ahead.

She explained: “Some credit unions have Christmas saving plans. You can add money throughout the year, and it will be paid out in time for Christmas.

“It’s also a good idea to pick up some gifts throughout the year and keeping a list of what you’ve bought so far and how much you’ve spent can be useful. Agreeing a spending limit with your family in advance or arranging a Secret Santa can also help keep your costs low.

“Once Christmas is over, you can make the most of the Boxing Day sales to pick up cheap Christmas cards, wrapping paper and decorations for next year.”

Lynne is urging people to seek support if they are worried about money or debt this festive season.

“If you’ve found yourself struggling to pay bills this winter, seek advice as soon as you can. Agencies like Advice Works and Renfrewshire Citizens Advice Bureau can help with budgeting, arranging payment plans and can offer help to deal with problem debts.

“There’s no stigma attached to seeking help with money and debt, no matter your circumstances. Please don’t be afraid to come forward, our service is confidential, and our advisers won’t judge. We are here to offer assistance,” she said.

If you are concerned about managing your money this winter or are looking for advice around any additional benefits you may be entitled to, please get in touch with Advice Works on 0300 300 1238 for immediate advice or to arrange an appointment.

To contact the energy advice and advocacy team, email or call 0300 300 0300.

To contact the advice works team, email or call 0300 300 1238.

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Daily Record – Paisley