WEARSIDE families left counting the cost of the school holidays are being forced to turn to loan sharks for help, a leading debt advice service has warned.
Liz Chadwick, chief executive of Dawn Advice, which runs the Northern Debt Line, advised parents to seek expert help before turning to payday loans and illegal lenders.
“We are at the end of the summer break and many families across the region may be starting to feel the burden of the extra financial pressures caused by the school holidays,” she said.
“Every summer, families have to find extra funds to meet the cost of entertainment, additional childcare and increased food bills, all of which can put a real strain on already stretched household budgets.
“Short-term credit may often appear like the easiest and simplest solution to cover bills, but often it is just a case of papering over the cracks and it can become a difficult cycle to break.
“If repayment deadlines are missed and debts roll over, the unsettled interest will increase and this can spiral out of control.
“Anyone who is struggling financially as a result of the summer break should seek professional and independent advice before entering into any loan agreements to ensure they won’t be making their financial situation even worse.”
Short-term loans, which can include no credit checks and instant approvals, can leave people saddled with hefty interest payments.
Official figures reveal that the number of people using money lenders has almost doubled in the last four years.
About 310,000 households are currently in debt to loan sharks, compared to 168,000 in 2008.
As these lenders operate illegally, they can resort to bully tactics, making their victims’ lives a misery.
Loan sharks are known to trap their victims into a spiral of debt. With a lack of paperwork, they keep their victims in the dark about how much they still owe and charge high interest rates.
The Northern Debt Line, offers free, confidential and independent financial advice.
Anyone who wants help should call 0300 3333 445 or visit www.dawnadvice.org.uk.