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‘Pay-later’ schemes linked with debt worries, survey shows

11 February 2022

Alamy

Street art in Shoreditch, east London, featuring Klarna, the leading “Buy now, pay later” finance company offering almost interest-free loans

Street art in Shoreditch, east London, featuring Klarna, the leading “Buy now, pay later” finance company offering almost interest-free loans

MORE than half the British adults experiencing problem debt have used “Buy now, pay later” services in the past year to cover purchases that they otherwise could not afford, a new survey suggests. And almost four out of five of the respondents worried about how they could make the repayments.

The survey of 1076 UK adults who struggle with debt was carried out by Savanta ComRes for Christians Against Poverty (CAP) over ten days at the beginning of January; the results were published on Monday. It supported CAP’s #BreakFree campaign to offer people free, debt-help services.

“It’s hard facing up to the reality that you are living with unmanageable debt,” the debt-centre manager of Gateshead Central, Mark Worthington, said. “Long-term, it is crushing for both the individual and their family and friends. People become isolated, depressed, and many speak of being weighed down by the burden of the debt they are in.”

The campaign’s freephone line — 0800 328 0006 — offers help and guidance. “The people on the other end are lovely,” Mr Worthington said. “There is always a route we can find to help someone start dealing with a debt problem, whether it be help to find a job club, a money-management course, or with support to rebuild life skills.”

When someone becomes debt-free, they receive a phone call from head office telling them that they have achieved this new status. “Clients say they can hear everyone cheering, and the sound of party poppers and bells going off and great cheers because CAP staff share their clients’ joy.”

CAP has 284 centres around the country. The north-east-area manager, Julia Wilthew, recalled one man who had spent to the limit on 12 credit cards, keeping it a secret from his family and friends until his wife discovered a statement. She forgave him, and called CAP for help to take control of their finances. “We saw his shame dissipate and be replaced with a new confidence,” Ms Wilthew said. “It all started by bringing the issue out into the open.”

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