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Consumers struggling with rising prices urged to seek help

New research has revealed that many UK borrowers are missing out on financial help that is more important than ever with the rising cost of living.

Consumers struggling with rising prices urged to seek help
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The research has prompted calls from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and MoneyHelper urging consumers to get help as soon as possible if they are struggling financially.

According to the research some people who are struggling financially are not seeking support because they are embarrassed, with 42 per cent of borrowers who were struggling ignoring their lenders’ attempt to contact them because they felt ashamed.

Additionally, two out of five people (40 per cent) who were struggling financially incorrectly thought simply talking to a debt adviser would have a negative impact on their credit file.

However, the research also found that those who get help find it useful. Eight out of 10 (79 per cent) people in financial difficulty who used debt advice would recommend it and 70 per cent said it had been more helpful than they had anticipated. 

More than half (52 per cent) of borrowers in financial difficulty waited more than a month before seeking help. Of these, 53 per cent regretted not doing so sooner. This feeling of regret became stronger the longer people waited after first experiencing difficulties, increasing to two in three (67 per cent) among those who waited more than six months.

The FCA and MoneyHelper are urging consumers to contact their lender if they are struggling to make their payments. The FCA recently reminded lenders of how they should provide customers with help and support that take account of their individual needs and circumstance if they are struggling with their payments. Where appropriate, this can include agreeing reduced or no payments for a period. 

Consumers can also contact MoneyHelper if they are worried about money. The government-backed service can help people find a way forward whether it is living on a squeezed income, working out how to prioritise bills and payments, or access to free, expert debt advice. 

Sheldon Mills, executive director of consumers and competition at the FCA, said anyone can find themselves in financial difficulty, and the rising cost of living means more people will struggle to make ends meet.

“If you’re struggling financially the most important thing is to speak to someone. If you’re worried about keeping up with payments, talk to your lender as soon as possible, as they could offer affordable options to pay back what is owed,” he said.

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