Debt crisis sparks summit

SOARING levels of personal debt are destroying so many lives in Suffolk that experts were due to gather in Ipswich today to develop an action plan to limit the county's spiral into the red.

SOARING levels of personal debt are destroying so many lives in Suffolk that experts were due to gather in Ipswich today to develop an action plan to limit the county's spiral into the red.

In what is thought to be the first meeting of its kind in the county, high-level specialists on finance, personal debt, trading standards and even drugs and alcohol met to debate how to slow the rise in debt.

The meeting was called after it was revealed that chronic debt is growing at an alarming rate in Suffolk. Earlier this year an investigation by The Evening Star revealed that in Ipswich, Felixstowe, Stowmarket and Leiston alone there were 600 people who together faced debts of £12million.

Across the UK personal debt is now thought to total more than £1trillion (£1,000,000,000,000) - around £20,000 for each person.

Today's summit was held under the umbrella of Suffolk County Council's public protection committee, which says it will push for national changes to reduce the number of people whose lives are being destroyed by debt.

The committee called the meeting after councillors had contact with and heard anecdotal evidence of a growing number of residents across the county who reported with debt problems which put them in danger of losing their homes, being blacklisted for credit for the rest of their lives and facing debts so large they would never be able to repay them.

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John Field, the committee's chairman, said: “Today's climate makes it too easy to spend more than you have. People who have little to start with pay extortionate interest on small loans.

“We want to scrutinise the problems Suffolk people face with credit and then what services are available to help with crippling debt.

“Once we have heard the evidence from across the county we will be armed with the information to push for changes both locally and nationally.”

Today's meeting is the first of four which will lead to some kind of debt action plan for the county aimed at reducing the amount of people who fall into the credit trap.

Mr Field said: “There are no easy solutions. Will we succeed? It's not clear but we hope we'll do something.”

WEBLINK: www.suffolk.gov.uk

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