In the face of job losses and financial uncertainty, high-interest loans present a big risk to vulnerable families looking at ways to make ends meet. Citizens Advice Gateshead is putting out a stark warning to encourage people to think hard before borrowing, encouraging to consider all of the options through a new campaign they’ve called MASK.
MASK stands for seeking Money Advice, Affordability, Shop around and Keep up repayments.
Neil Gow, the charity’s communications manager, explains why they’ve launched the campaign “We have seen a dramatic rise in people worried about money during the Covid-19 pandemic, the impact of furlough and increasing job losses, as well as a surge in the promotion of short term, high-interest loans. So, we wanted to get a campaign out there that would catch people’s eye, to help them know that there are always options available. Using MASK seemed the obvious choice as it’s now part of our every day – we're hoping that people will see the word MASK, read what it stands for, and make better choices as a result.”
With some commentators suggesting problem debt will increase by 60% in 2021, Citizens Advice Gateshead has also introduced a dedicated local debt helpline allowing local people to speak directly to one of their team of specialist money advisers and start the process of tackling their finances.
Arianne Graven, Legal Advice Services Manager at the charity said “Our free, impartial and quality assured debt advice service can advise people on budgeting, planning and making sure they are getting the income they’re entitled to while also reducing you’re their outgoings. When times are hard, loans can seem like an easy way to access money, but there are many other options available; our job is to help people to explore them so people can choose the right one for them.”
If you live in Gateshead and need money advice you can ring the free confidential Debt Helpline on 0191 490 4248. For other help and advice ring 0191 4785100 or go to contact us to book a call back a member of our advice team.