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Black Friday warning by leading Christian money advice charity

As Black Friday deals entice Christmas shoppers this weekend, a leading national debt advice charity is warning that households face a growing mountain of debt.

Community Money Advice, a national charity committed to supporting churches and community groups who have a passion to help people overcome their money problems, has urged families to consider the increase in essential bills at this time of year, such as heating, and to ensure that they stick to a budget when doing any shopping.

On Black Friday shoppers are predicted to spend £2.4 billion whilst consumer debt currently stands at £1.59 trillion, £849.91 per household more than this time last year, according to figures from The Money Charity.

Heather Keates, chief executive of Community Money Advice, said: “Christmas is a challenging time for household finances. At a time of year when families pay more on essential bills such as heating, the cost of Christmas can push households further into debt. We would encourage families to stick to a budget and remember that what we spend in credit will need to be paid for in the new year.”

Changing circumstances or a crisis can often make it difficult for people to pay back debts which can leave people feeling trapped and powerless. Single mum Anna used catalogues and credit cards to get by until her circumstances changed when her father died.

Anna, said: “I felt really low and ignored my debts and bills. Eventually my debts got sold on to a debt collection company who began knocking on my door regularly…to make sure my daughter had what she needed I would go without, things like new clothes for work or even food. It’s been really important to receive long-term support…since gaining a Debt Relief Order I have been helped to budget and apply for discounts I’m entitled to. Overall I’m a much happier person … if you’re in trouble, you might have to push past your boundaries to get the help you need.”

Community Money Advice manages a network of 159 debt advice charities where 1,200 advisors are currently offering face-to-face help and practical support to 5,328 families, managing £154 million of debt. Face-to-face advice and support is a lifeline to people trapped in debt. In 2018 Community Money Advice helped 19,059 people find freedom from debt and hope for the future.

Community Money Advice is asking anyone experiencing stress because of money problems to seek professional help.

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Picture: Shoppers hunt for deals at West Quay Shopping Centre, Southampton, as shops across the UK opened their doors for Black Friday. (Matt Alexander/PA).