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ED’S COMMENT – The true cost of debt

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For far too long it was just too easy. Invitations to take out credit cards and personal loans dropped through the nation’s letterboxes by the ton and, boy, did we go for them. Life, as the poet Philip Larkin once said, was “A brilliant breaking of the bank/A quite unlosable game”  courtesy of the credit-mongers.-more->

But it wasn’t, of course, and now the losers are counting the cost of their profligacy, as the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) grimly reports in its latest debt update report.

The CAB is handling 6,600 debt queries every single working day, up 20% in the last year, and it’s not just credit repayment issues that are causing concern. “Hundreds of thousands of people are increasingly struggling to meet day-to-day living expenses and that’s a real worry,” said CAB boss David Harker.

“Gas and electricity problems shot up by a third (33%), while council tax enquiries went up 25% and telephone debt problems 19%. Problems with mortgages and secured loans were up 11%, which of course impact on people’s homes.”

Well, yes, of course they do. It would have been better if the credit companies had heeded Harker’s current advice, say 10 years ago, before things had gotten this bad: “Lenders need to do much more to check that borrowers are really in a position keep up repayments when they take out credit.”

But they didn’t, hence the current mess and one, moreover, that looks as if it will get a lot worse before it gets any better. It wasn’t Larkin’s bank that was broken – it was us.

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