- £8.47 BILLION OF CHRISTMAS DEBT
ACCORDING TO RESEARCH BY debt Free Direct, the independent company which provides free, impartial and professional advice to people with debt problems, 15.6 million people will incur around £8.74 billion worth of new debt during Christmas. Over £2 billion of this will be accrued by 4.97 million people who don't work.
Also, despite the recent increase in interest rates and further rises expected during 2004, 3.37 million people expect to borrow around £879 million more than they did last Christmas.
Andrew Redmond, Chief executive, Debt Free Direct said:- "With consumer debt already at record levels, Christmas spending will push many people to the brink of financial breakdown. Indeed 1.6 million people expect to take on over £1,000 worth of new debt during the festive season.
With the Bank of England base rate expected to rise next year, interest repayments will increase dramatically and more people will be faced with debt problems that are out of control. Indeed, a 1% increase in interest rates will mean that many people's mortgage repayments will rise by up to 20%. Almost 109,000 homeowners have fallen behind with their mortgage repayments and we believe that Christmas debt could result in this number growing during January."
According to Debt Free Direct's research, men plan to borrow more money than women during the festive season. Of those who plan to finance Christmas through loans and credit cards, men will borrow an average of £650.50 each compared to £405.94 for women.
On a regional basis, people in the south of the country who will borrow money during Christmas will on average run up debts of £627 per person. This compares to £511 in the midlands and £464 in the North of the country.
Andrew Redmond said:- "There is tremendous pressure on all of us to spend money on loved ones, family and friends at Christmas. And with so many lenders willing to provide the funds and interest rates still low, there's also a big temptation to apply for loans or spend more on your credit cards and worry about repaying it later."
Debt Free Direct has a commitment to providing free, independent advice to every over-indebted consumer who calls seeking help. The company has developed a sophisticated computer model which gives advice on how to best deal with debt. Following the right advice, monthly debt repayments can be reduced to an affordable level. For free advice, please call 08000 83 67 51.
Debt Free Direct offers the following advice to people who are finding it difficult to make repayments on their debts:
· Don't ignore the problem. One of the biggest challenges facing some people in debt is to persuade them to address their problems. Too many people ignore them until it's too late
· Draw up a list of your debts and prioritise them. Top priority should be given to your mortgage or rent payments because otherwise you could face losing your home
· If you have a number of creditors and are finding it difficult to make repayments, take professional advice from a debt advisory service. They can help you find the best way to get your debt back under control
· Are you missing out on any State benefits that you are entitled to? Well over £1 billion worth of benefits goes unclaimed every year
· Look for ways to reduce your expenditure: could you cut back on eating out or shopping for example?
Think twice before taking on more debt, unless it's to pay off existing debt at a lower rate of interest. Il advised borrowing can often makes the situation worse. Consolidation loans and debt management programmes are best for only a small proportion of people. Other solutions are available which may be more appropriate
- Building Up to a Bumper Christmas
A construction company supervisor from Netherly in Merseyside will be laying the foundations for a home of his own after he successfully matched five numbers plus the bonus ball to win £66,924 on the Lotto draw, Saturday 13th October 2003.
Vincent Byrne (43), whose winning numbers were inspired by a local snooker hall where he once worked, had gone to bed after a hard day's work when he was woken with a surprise by wife Julie (38).
He explains:- "It was just after 9pm on Saturday night and I had gone to bed after an exhausting day, when my wife woke me to say we'd had no luck on the Lottery! We then realised she was looking at her mum's ticket and had checked that one by mistake. It prompted me to check our own numbers on Ceefax and to my total surprise I saw that we had matched 5 numbers and the bonus ball."
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Vincent continues:- "Julie asked is it meant we'd won £500 and I replied that we had won a little more than that, more like £60,000 at which point she started jumping around the living room!"
Vincent and Julie have four children; Hayley is 16, Victoria is 13, Jane is 10 and the latest arrival William is just 18 months. The couple believe William is their 'lucky charm' as their first baby boy! Vincent gathered the children as soon as he found out about the win and explained he was going to take them on a family holiday after Christmas. The children have decided on Disneyland, Florida as their dream destination!
The couple will also be using the money to buy mobile phones for the children, treat close family and friends and enjoy a fantastic Christmas together.
Vincent, a construction manager for building firm Urban Splash is now looking forward to buying his own house and has been playing Lotto since it began, playing three lines every Saturday. He plans to continue to play the same numbers every week.
- Liverpool will twin with the American city of Memphis, Tennessee for 2004.
THERE'LL be plenty more sightings of Elvis in Liverpool as the capital of pop teams up with the birthplace of rock and roll to celebrate 50 years of 'the Devil's music'.
2004 marks half a century since Elvis Presley cut his first record - 'That's All Right' - at the legendary Sun Studio on July 5th 1954.
Liverpool schoolboys, Lennon.J and McCartney.P were among the millions left 'all shook up' by the emergence of The King, as rock 'n' roll boomed from Memphis to the Mersey.
To celebrate the birth of rock 'n' roll, Liverpool will join in a year long celebration with Memphis. Among the highlights will be the Summer Pops season and the Mathew Street Festival.
Kevin Kane, President of the Memphis Convention said:- "Memphis and Liverpool had more impact on the development of Rock and Roll than just about any other community in the world and are obvious choices to lead in this celebration."
The celebrations rock 'n' roll into Liverpool this Tuesday, the 16th December, when the two musical cities officially twin for 2004.
The King himself will be donning his blue suede shoes and taking a Cadillac ride to the 'Fingerprints of Elvis' exhibition at the Albert Dock to compare quiffs with the Leader of Liverpool City Council.
Council Leader, Councillor Mike Storey, said:- "We are delighted to be playing a leading role in this landmark anniversary. Liverpool is the Capital of Pop with the most Number One records in the known universe. It is really exciting that we will now be teaming up with the birthplace of rock 'n' roll. 2004 will now mark 50 years of rock and roll, from Memphis to Mossley Hill."
Liverpool's links with Memphis could include sending schoolchildren across the Atantic to learn more about American culture. The City has already established links with its official twin towns, Dublin, Shanghai, Cologne and Tallinn.
Sue Woodward, Creative Director of Liverpool's Capital of Culture programme said:-
"Music is a major part of Liverpool's culture. Twinning with Memphis will further raise the City's profile and provides an opportunity for the people of Liverpool to find out more about our American cousins and vice versa."