Fenland families resort to doorstep loans to pay for Christmas - but some face losing homes

FAMILIES in Fenland are counting the cost of Christmas after resorting to doorstep loans to pay for presents and some now face losing their homes. With 300 per cent interest rates common among lenders, borrowers are facing the realities of a bleak new yea

FAMILIES in Fenland are counting the cost of Christmas after resorting to doorstep loans to pay for presents and some now face losing their homes.

With 300 per cent interest rates common among lenders, borrowers are facing the realities of a bleak new year.

Fenland Citizens Advice Bureau has seen a big increase in those seeking help for debt problems.

Manager Linda Hutchinson said: "The cost of Christmas is a huge problem for local families. We have clients who are still paying for Christmases three and four years ago, never mind last Christmas.


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"We have people who find they cannot pay their mortgage or rent in January and then in February the credit card bills arrive. I have spoken to someone who by the time they have paid their credit card, mortgage and loans have just �25 a week to live on and that is for a family of four."

Mrs Hutchinson said parents feel under pressure to borrow money to buy expensive Christmas presents for their children.

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She added: "They should ask themselves is it worth 364 days of misery for just one day of happiness? What is the good of having a new computer if you don't have anywhere to plug it in?"

She said people with debt problems should prioritise payments such as mortgage, rent and council tax which have the greatest consequences if they are not paid. They should also seek help from organisations such as CAB rather than pay fees to a debt management company.

While the majority of clients have borrowed money from legitimate doorstep lenders who are regulated and upfront about their activities, the CAB is keen to hear about any illegal loan sharks operating in the area.

Mrs Hutchinson said: "We do hear about loan sharks operating among the migrant community but we need evidence or we cannot do anything about it. Once we have evidence we can involve people like Trading Standards."

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