Ann Tarr, recently appointed Gordano Valley Debt Centre manager, Christians Against Poverty

Ann Tarr recently took on the role of Gordano Valley Debt Centre manager, covering the towns of Portishead, Clevedon, Pill and Nailsea, for Christians Against Poverty (CAP), the national organisation specialising in debt counselling. With the furlough scheme coming to an end and pandemic-related economic uncertainty still very much with us, we asked Ann for her thoughts on dealing with debt and avoiding the pitfalls.  

In your experience, what are the most common scenarios that lead to people falling into financial difficulty?

Relationship breakup, loss of overtime, ill health. People who used to manage with a cash budget each week have struggled now that so much is paid for by card. It is easy to lose sight of what you are spending money on.

From your work with CAP, what impact do you think the Covid-19 pandemic has had on people who were already struggling to keep on top of their finances?

People who were struggling have found it very hard to cope. Those on Universal Credit have found it particularly tough, as have those who rely on bonus and overtime.

Given the UK’s high levels of consumer debt, would you like to see more done to monitor personal credit and if so, what?

This is a difficult question. There is a balance between personal responsibility and the nanny state. What is clear is that many people are unable to calculate the actual cost of something like a mobile phone contract and focus only on the monthly cost, not the total cost after 36 months. Good financial education needs to start in the home and in school. I can still remember an ad hoc lesson we had in maths on the cost of buying things on the ‘never never’ compared with buying outright. 

What support does CAP offer and how can people get in touch with the team?

We help with budgeting courses and how to be better with money. If you are in debt, we can help you work out the best option for you to deal with this. We can help you put a budget together which can help keep your finances in control.

You can contact CAP by calling 0800 3280006 or by emailing
anntarr@capuk.org.