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Shelter warns personal debts are rocketing in North Wales

IN just four months a leading charity tried to help 129 people in North Wales who owed a staggering £7.7m.

One man in Wrexham had debts totalling £1,250,000.

Shelter Cymru says personal debt in Wales is rocketing. Between October and December 2008, specialist advisers from the charity dealt with nearly £8.5m of personal debt in Wales, almost twice the amount seen in April of that year.

The situation is particularly acute in north Wales, says the charity.

Dave Sheridan is a case worker at the charity’s Wrexham office which has witnessed a particularly high number of enquiries.

Mr Sheridan revealed one client had a breathtaking £1.25m debt – £450,000 on his mortgage, £258,000 and £130,000 on secured loans, £255,000 on unsecured loans such as credit cards, and £55,000 owed to the taxman. The man went bankrupt.

Another Wrexham client had £518,000 debts on 18 unsecured loans – credit cards.

“Since I started in September 2006 I have seen 287 clients with £22m worth of debt, and 75% of my clients are in Wrexham,” said Mr Sheridan

Shelter Cymru’s National Operations Manager Janet Loudon said: “These are just the people we’re seeing. There are likely to be many more vulnerable families and individuals in desperate financial circumstances who aren’t on our radar at all.

“We can negotiate with lenders to help prevent repossession, eviction and homelessness and in some cases, we can arrange for some debts to be written off.

“We are pleased that the Assembly Government is starting to take action on this with the launch of its consultation on a financial inclusion strategy for Wales.”

Shelter Cymru has the equivalent of just four full-time staff providing specialist debt advice across the whole of Wales. These staff are supported by the UK Government’s Financial Inclusion Fund to provide face-to-face advice and assistance to lower-income and vulnerable sectors of society.

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