If you are looking for options to borrow money, struggling with debt problems, or concerned about getting behind with bills and rent, there are a number of organisations in the borough that can help.
It is important that you know how much money you have coming in and how much you are spending. The Citizens Advice Bureau (external link) can help, along with Unify and Welcome Credit Unions.
There are also a number of other support organisations in the borough who offer this advice alongside other services. If you live in a council-owned home, we can help you with this.
Check if a lender is registered
Credit unions are non-profit financial organisations owned and run by members. Membership of a credit union can help you to save and provide access to low cost loans. There are two credit unions operating in Wigan Borough.
You can contact either:
Pay day lenders
Pay day lenders are companies that offer small, short term, unsecured loans and typically charge extremely high rates of interest compared to credit unions, for example.
Wigan Council discourages residents from taking out pay day loans because they can quickly get into a level of debt that is difficult to deal with. If you are considering a pay day loan be aware of:
- An extortionate rate of interest – For every £100 you borrow you’re likely to be charged around £25 per month, which is about 1,000% APR
- Ease of rolling over the loan from one month to the next – This will massively increase the amount you have to repay
- The serious affect it can have on your ability to get credit from other lenders in the future.
Loan sharks and doorstep lenders
It is illegal to lend money without a license. Loan sharks are companies or individuals who lend money illegally, often charging very high interest rates. They often use threats, intimidation and even violence to collect their debts, leaving their victims living in fear.
The loan shark is breaking the law - you have done nothing wrong and will not be in trouble with the authorities. Debt to a loan shark cannot be legally enforced, meaning if you report it, you may not have to pay it back.
If you think you may have borrowed money from a loan shark or know about one, you can report them anonymously to the Illegal Money Lending Team.
If you find that you are struggling with debt and are unable to manage repayments, it is important to think about which debts you need to deal with first. These are called priority debts.
Paying the mortgage or rent, any fuel bills, your Council Tax bill, court fines, Income Tax or VAT should take priority. There can be serious consequences to not paying these bills.
All other debts such as bank loans, overdrafts and credit cards are non-priority debts.
Contact people you owe
You must contact the people you owe money to and let them know that you are having problems as soon as possible. If you do not do this, you risk action being taken. You could even have gas or electric cut off or bailiffs can take your belongings.
The Citizens Advice Bureau (external link) or National Debtline (external link) can help and advise you confidentially and may even be able to negotiate a repayment plan on your behalf.
We hold welfare rights and debt advice outreach surgeries across the borough, dealing with benefit enquiries, form filling, appeals, overpayments and basic debt advice including personal budgeting, energy switches and loan/credit card debt.
The outreach surgeries are a drop in and no appointment is necessary. Times and locations are:
- Monday 9am - 12pm Sunshine house Scholes
- Thursday 9am - 12pm Pensioners link, Charles Street, Leigh
- Thursday 2pm - 4pm Marsh Green library
- Friday 2pm - 4pm Golborne library.
The following options have serious and long term consequences so please seek independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (external link) before going down any of these routes.
- Bankruptcy – This may take the pressure away but it is a last resort and you must seek advice
- Administration order – Your debts must be less than £5,000 and you must have a county court judgement (CCJ) against you
- Individual voluntary arrangements (IVA) – Costs of IVAs can be high and you may have to pay an upfront fee. If you don’t keep up with the payments you can be made bankrupt
- Debt relief order – A simplified, quicker and cheaper alternative to bankruptcy for people who meet a certain criteria.