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Well that’s what I tried to get to the bottom off the other day when the question was put to me by Chris Berrow in the BBC Essex studio.

Let me explain first what insolvency is, as there are two legal definitions:

  • Where a business or individual’s liabilities (what you owe) exceed your assets (what you own)
  • Where you are unable to pay your debts as they fall due.

When a consumer goes insolvent in England and Wales, they are either going bankrupt, entering into a formal repayment plan to their creditors under an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or they have entered into a Debt Relief Order, commonly referred to as a DRO.

Read more: What’s behind the sudden spike in consumer insolvencies, last seen with the financial crisis in...


Do I tell my partner about my debts?

Hiding debts is something we tend to not think about too much when living with someone but it happens. It’s difficult to come up with an accurate number of those hiding the amount they owe creditors but falling on my experience in debt management I would suggest it can effect anywhere between 30-50% or all relationships. It’s life and some people can be very secretive.

I got a stark reminder of this earlier this year when I was on a LBC debt phone-in show 1 January 2018 (10 mins) when the first caller Marie shocked the presenter by saying she had been hiding her £30,000 plus credit card debt for over a year from her husband. To make matters worse the family home was jointly owned. This means the other half will find out sooner or later, more on this below.

A classic example where debt can be hidden in a relationship is if both parties have separate bank accounts. That way neither one really knows the true extent of each other’s finances as they will not have access to the credit agreement, bank account or credit/store card.

Signs that someone has a debt problem

Read more: Are you hiding your debt from your partner?


The rumours in the media finally came to fruition as UK’s largest payday lender, Wonga went into administration yesterday, 30 August 2018. So, what does it all mean to you the customer? I’ll try and give you some answers below.

I have a loan with Wonga, can I stop paying it?

No. You still have to make the payments as previously agree with Wonga.

You can still communicate with Wonga if you experience difficulty in paying using the same contact details as before.

If you need more information on how to best manage your debts then look at our list of the 'not for profit and free' free debt help / advice agencies, they will not charge you fees for debt options.

Ok, what happens if Wonga sell my loan to another payday lender, can I stop paying it?

Read more: What to do if a customer or claiming compensation from Wonga payday loan company


Police officers’ debt problems have cropped up quite a few times over the past few days, two of my last direct enquires were from separate police officers, one with £55,000 of unsecured debt and the other £40,000 and then we had the recent survey conducted by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) on police pay and moral.

Police officers are not robots, they are humans!

Not surprisingly the survey revealed that nearly 10,000 police officers have taken on a second job to earn extra money to pay bills and debts. I’ve been helping police officers and support staff with their debt issues for around 25 years now and therefore understand how they suffer from debt triggers such as separation, illness (includes mental) and change in work conditions which can lead to loss of overtime and unsociable hours payments. Quite a few police officers have informed they also took a pay cut between £5,000 and £10,000 a year when they joined up!

So why is it alarming for the police and not teachers, nurses etc?

Read more: Police Officers' pay, debts and food vouchers


Well this was a of a belter of a show, not just because it was a hot day, more as a result of the first and last callers. See link at foot of page to listen to free podcast with topics and timeline.

Payday loans spiraling out of control

First up was Cara who said she took out three payday loans last Christmas, just signed the application forms as she was so desperate and didn’t really read the small print. Cara now says the £3,000 debt has spiraled up to £13,000, this in just a few months! I was able to spend more time than usual with Cara as there was quite a lot I could do to help her.

Read more: “My £3,000 of payday loans are now £13,000,” and “I have £60,000 on four credit cards paying just...


Many vulnerable members of society need credit for essential items, this could be for clothing, white goods such as fridges and washing machines but it is just not fair and responsible to charge these people sky high rates of interest, set up fees and warranty insurance. The example the FCA gave of one electric cooker from BrightHouse could cost £1,500 over their credit term when compared to the same item available in the High Street for just £300, sets it out clearly, the vulnerable in my view are being exploited.

Read more: My thoughts on the FCA proposals to reduce high cost credit and unarranged overdraft fees


Mike & Clive in the LBC studio

My blog on the LBC Money Hour - Sunday 15 April 2018.

This Money Hour on LBC was really rewarding and yet challenging for a variety of reasons, one was the desperation I picked up in the calls as well as the total lack of awareness of how to get out of the debt. Two of callers had around £100,000 each, on credit and store cards!

I was told my debts would be gone in six years

It was caller number 3 John who said he had 100k and was paying just £95 per month and someone had told him the debts might be gone after just six years. Unfortunately for John this was rather misleading. He said he was in a debt management plan, DMP, but didn’t really know what he could do. I went through all his options, explained alternatives such as consumer bankruptcy or an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA). It was a fascinating call and I felt he is now far more knowledgeable of his debt options, albeit we only spoke for around eight-minutes.

Read more: "I'm paying £2,500 a month on my 100k of credit card debt and can't survive" - Just one of the...


Mike & Clive in the LBC studio

These were just a taste of some of the callers to the popular LBC Money Hour on Sunday, 18 March 2018.

This show was not unlike many of the others I’ve done with Clive Bull, busy, a wide variety of callers with debt problems but what stood out were two things, first was the different attitudes of callers Steven and Kit, who both owed around £10,000 of unsecured debt, second, was Chris who said he went so wild in his early days, (he’s now 23) he can’t remember who he owes money to and how much, what a predicament to be in! Then we had Theresa, being charged £360 per year for a £1,000 overdraft.

I’ll go through those callers below and have added a link to the free podcast with a timeline at the bottom of this blog to help you find the exact moment they come on air along with my response.

Can’t payer V Won’t payer

Read more: 'Can’t payer v won’t payer’ / ‘I just went wild with 10 payday loans and haven’t paid them back’ /...


Had a really good time with Mr Ed Nestor MBE a few days ago when I popped back to the BBC studios for his Drivetime Show on Radio London.

Although I’ve spoken a good few times with Ed in the past it was only my second time in the studio and we had an hour to get into helping his listeners with debt issues, we started the show with what happens when you don’t pay your council tax, more pertinent as the envelopes have just started landing on our door mats. We also had time to help Carl, another caller, who has £45,000 of debt and was confused about bankruptcy, more on Carl later.

The show opened with a chap who said he was in the throes of being made bankrupt for non-payment of his council tax over a period of three years. Bankruptcy is a serious move for anyone and there has been condemnation from many debt advisers of councils using strong arm tactics of bailiffs/enforcement officers and the threat of bankruptcy to get people to pay the council tax. For this chap though his problems are only really just getting started...... because he is a HOUSE OWNER!

Council tax arrears of at least £5,000

I didn’t know how much this chap owed in council tax arrears but it has to be a minimum £5,000 as the threshold at which a creditor/lender can make you bankrupt changed around a year ago.

Read more: How council tax arrears of £5,000 could easily cost the home owner £20,000 in as little as three...



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