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Debt - gender makes no difference

Posted 11 March 2013

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We found that gender makes little difference when it comes to debt problems, with the same number of men and women getting professional debt help over a 12-month period.

The 'battle of the sexes' might go on ("women can't park a car", "men can't communicate", etc.) but when it comes to debt, it seems there's not much difference between us.

To mark International Women's Week, we looked into the figures around women and debt - and found that men and women are in pretty much the same boat when it comes to debt problems.

Between March 2012 and February 2013, we provided debt help to more or less same number of men as women. The circumstances of those we helped were much the same too.

The people we provided debt help to:

•  Had average unsecured debts of almost £10,000

•  Had average disposable incomes of around £250 per month

•  Had an average of six different unsecured debts.

Disposable income is really important because this is the money you actually have available every month for your unsecured debt repayments. This is basically the money you have left after paying for everything you need: your rent or mortgage, your Council Tax, your heating and food, etc.

Women and debt

As part of International Women's Week, we are raising awareness of some of the reasons women can face debt problems. While men and women might be equal in terms of debt problems, the reason they go into debt can be very different.

Both men and women can find their finances tipped over the edge by changes in their circumstances, such as redundancy, illness or simply having overspent. But many women encounter debt problems when their disposable income falls:

•   On maternity leave and in the time after starting a new family

•   If they reduce their hours at work - perhaps to spend more time raising a family

•  When they have additional expenses, like childcare or health care for offspring

•  Following a relationship breakdown.

The women we helped - like the men we helped - had an average of six unsecured debts (which can include credit cards, overdrafts or personal loans). Dealing with multiple lenders can be very difficult when you can't afford your agreed payments.

Debt Advisory Centre could deal with those lenders for you, setting up an informal repayment plan with affordable repayments, or a more formal insolvency arrangement if necessary. It really depends on what you need and what suits your circumstances. Just be aware that your credit rating will be affected if you don't keep up with the payments you agreed to make when you first borrowed the money.

by Christine Walsh

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To find out more about managing your money and getting free debt advice, visit Money Advice Service, an independent service set up to help people manage their money.