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One in seven hiding debt from their partner

calendar29 November 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

One in seven hiding debt from their partner

When you first fall in love, it feels like nothing can go wrong. You’re in love and you have a best friend and an ally to go through life with, that special someone you can talk about anything with. Everything feels like the end of a movie. As time goes on, however, things get more complicated and your relationship has to survive the mundane, difficult and stressful parts of life too. It can seem easier to hide those parts of life rather than face up to them. When it comes to money problems, hiding debt can seem easier than talking about it. Fear of a partner’s reaction, shame about the debt or uncovering incompatible approaches to money can all seem legitimate reasons to keep debt a secret.

Worrying about damaging the relationship if the debt is revealed can seem legitimate but our experience is that not talking about it can prove to be destructive. We’ve talked about ways to deal with The Money Conversation before. The stress of debt, even when the truth comes out, can put a strain on a relationship. If you can find a way to talk it through in a patient, loving and caring environment, it can be a lot easier.

CAP has recently begun working with the UK charity Relate to understand more about the link between debt and relationships. A total of 4,700 people were surveyed. The findings showed that one in seven adult Brits have hidden debt problems from their partner.

So, what are the reasons? More than half say they feel ashamed, 46% were scared of their partner’s reaction. A third felt their partner had a different approach to money.

Helen Webb, CAP's External Affairs Manager, commented, ‘Talking about finances with your partner can be really tough, especially if you feel mistakes have been made on either side. However, at Christians Against Poverty, we help couples look to the future and find solutions rather than dwell on what’s gone wrong. We’re delighted to have worked with Relate on this research that highlights just how vital it is to brave it and tackle money problems together.’

Nicky was living with her husband in Gloucester when they got into debt after remortgaging to pay off credit cards and personal loans.

‘Bringing up our three children was expensive and it was ridiculously easy to get into debt. We found it easier to ignore the debts and carry on spending than confront each other about it. When we eventually did start trying to talk about It, we’d approach it in the wrong way, which meant we’d argue and, ironically, go out and spend more money. We are paying off the debt now but we had a lot of slip ups and it could have destroyed our marriage. Free support around how to talk about the money without blame would have really helped.’

If you are living with problem debt, you can contact CAP here to find your nearest CAP Debt Centre. To find out more about Relate or to seek help from them you can visit their website here.

58 new CAP centres to open after biggest training ever!

calendar23 November 2017

Gemma Pask's avatar Gemma Pask

58 new CAP centres to open after biggest training ever!

This week at CAP HQ we hosted our biggest frontline staff training EVER, with 162 people from across the country training to open or join a CAP service.

As a result of this training, a grand total of 58 new CAP services will now open! This brings our current total to 624 UK centres, bringing hope, light and joy into their communities.

Of these 58, eleven are CAP Debt Centres. These will be opening in Maidenhead, Liverpool South, Oswestry & Ellesmere, Felixstowe, Chesterfield, Esher, Lancaster & Morecombe, East Grinstead, Widnes, Nottingham West Bridgford and Enfield.

13 new CAP Job Clubs will be opening in Harrogate, Enfield Town, Shipley, York North, Matlock, London Victoria Docks, Dartford, Rochester Central, Ballymoney, Killicomaine, York South, Hackney Central and Slough.

Ten of the 58 new services are CAP Release Groups, which will be opening in Deal, Southport, Barnstaple, Lincoln North, Stockton North, Templemore, Milford Haven, Wolverhampton Central, Barrow-in-Furness and Hadfield.

As for CAP Life Skills, a massive 24 new centres will be opening in Stamford, Wallington South, Hedingham, Leicester Braunstone, Monmouth, Bolton Deane, Maldon, North Croydon, Helensburgh, Devizes, Ormeau, Chesham, Leicestershire South West, Ballynahinch, Boulton, Bredbury, Edinburgh, Romsey, Pontypool, Hackney Central, Muswell Hill, Sheffield Endcliffe, Wolverhampton North and Market Drayton.

Do you have links with one of these areas? Don't forget to spread the word and let people know that CAP is now in your town or city. To book an appointment with your local debt centre, please call 0800 328 0006 (free of charge). If you're interested in taking part in one of our group services, you can search for your nearest here.

Could you buy nothing this Black Friday?

calendar20 November 2017

Joseph Allison's avatar Joseph Allison

Could you buy nothing this Black Friday?

Black Friday is a fairly recent addition to the West’s yearly consumerist traditions. It falls on the Friday before Thanksgiving and is recognised as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in America. As far back as 1952, stores began opening early and offering one-day promotions to boost their sales, and in recent years the event has stretched from a day to a weekend to a whole week of sales, not only in America but across the world and here in Britain too.

Black Friday does have its uses – it can of course be a great way of ticking some purchases off your list for a fraction of the cost. So long as you don’t get sucked into unnecessary and impulse spending, it can be really useful.

But, for the most part, it creates a lot of unnecessary pressure. Arguably it endangers smaller businesses that can’t keep up with the price cuts that the larger companies can. And people feel under pressure to spend, whether they can afford to or not, sucked into clever marketing and discount stickers giving the impression of a ‘deal’ you just can't miss.

Cue ‘Buy Nothing Day’ – a campaign on the same day as Black Friday (Friday 24 November this year) whereby people take a day’s break from spending. Partly developed out of protest, if nothing else Buy Nothing Day marks a modicum of peace before the Christmas rush really begins.

Fancy giving it a go? Here are some ideas for adapting your daily routine.

Breakfast (and other meals)
Have a good root around in the back of your kitchen cupboards – have you got any tinned goods or non-perishables that have been sitting there for months or even years? Provided they’re still in date, these could be enough to rustle up a meal or two without spending a penny.

The school run
Could you ditch the car for a day and walk the kids to school instead? The same goes for the commute into work. If it’s too far, why not car share with another family, a neighbour or co-worker? (Presuming they’re not doing Buy Nothing Day too!)

Lunch at work
Easy – swap your usual meal deal or lunch out for a packed lunch from home.

A day at home
Don’t work? There are plenty of ways to keep yourself entertained for a day without spending anything. Why not read that book that’s been sitting on your shelf for ages? Get back to that hobby you’ve been neglecting? Visit your neighbour for a coffee? If nothing else, these are bound to be less stressful than navigating the dreaded Black Friday crowds.

Evening with the kids
If you think you can manage to get the whole family on board with Buy Nothing Day, encourage the kids to ditch the TV for a day and play outside, or why not go old school with a family board game?

Social get-together
You can still spend the evening with friends and have a great social outing. The Buy Nothing Day website suggests organising a free concert, but it could be as simple as having a friendly kick-about in the park or a pamper evening. It’s only one day, after all – make the most of it and try something different!

To find out more about Buy Nothing Day, click here. If you decide to give it a go, don’t forget to share what you have planned on Twitter using #BuyNothingDay. For more ways to spend less, budget your money and save for the future, why not sign up for a CAP Money Course? Click here to search for a course in your area.


calendar13 November 2017

Kiri Saunders's avatar Kiri Saunders


This week CAP is joining in the celebration for all that organisations do to increase financial capability across the UK. The week is organised as part of the Financial Capability Strategy for the UK, and its main aim is to get more people talking about money.

What is financial capability?

Financial capability is the combination of skills and knowledge, as well as actions and self-belief, used to make good money management decisions to improve one’s life.

Here at CAP we’re passionate about building financial capability, which is why it has become so integrated into our debt advice service. As people work with us, they’re taught how to stick to a budget and are encouraged to save. What’s more, our other services, such as the CAP Money Course and CAP Life Skills, provide financial education, which builds financial capability.

So now it’s time to #talkmoney.

This year CAP is very much involved in Financial Capability Week. We’ve been able to encourage churches to run a CAP Money Course in the run up to the week, with over 103 courses planned.

CAP’s External Affairs team will be exhibiting at the Financial Capability conference. Here we’ll meet with other organisations in the finance industry, such as financial education providers, debt advisers and charities to share ideas and get people talking about money.

The team is also running a joint workshop with The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and Relate about emotions and money. This is a great opportunity for us to demonstrate all that we do to help build financial capability across all of our services.

What can you do?

Why not let us know about a CAP Money Course you’re running or have attended? Tweet us @CAPuk using the hashtag #talkmoney. We’d love to hear from you!

Universal Credit: the good, the bad and the ugly

calendar09 November 2017

Kiri Saunders's avatar Kiri Saunders

Universal Credit: the good, the bad and the ugly

It’s been all over the news recently, but what actually is Universal Credit? And why is everyone talking about it?

Universal Credit is a single monthly payment for people both in and out of work. It brings together what are now known as the ‘legacy benefits’, which include Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit and Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance. It was designed to bring ‘fairness and simplicity’ to the welfare system and will make things smoother as people move in and out of work.     

The benefit has been in its trial stage since 2013, but now the Government has moved to increase its roll out to 50 new job centres each month from November. Here at CAP we stood alongside other organisations, such as Citizens Advice, in a call to halt the roll out to resolve the problems we’re seeing before this.

But now the roll out is going ahead, what concerns do we have?

When someone makes a claim, it takes six weeks for their first payment to appear in their bank. This long wait is built into the system, because it includes a four-week assessment period and two weeks of processing. The Government expects claimants to live off their savings for this period, or apply for advance payments, which is a loan of 50% of the anticipated monthly payment. At CAP we know that a high proportion of people we help do not have savings to fall back on; in fact, of those seeking help last year, 92% had no savings at all.

Case study: Six-week wait
CAP clients Frank and Celia had been without an income for several weeks before they approached us for help. Frank has mild learning difficulties and Celia has a range of mental health issues including depression. Whilst waiting for their Universal Credit payment they were advised by the local Jobcentre Plus to take an advance payment. Frank and Celia were afraid to do this because they didn’t think they could afford to pay it back. As a result, they’ve been living off foodbanks and relying on other families to feed them. The waiting period has caused great distress to the couple, particularly because Celia believed they would be evicted from their home.

Another problem we have seen is the high level of debt repayments deducted straight from people’s monthly Universal Credit payments. For those who receive an advance payment, it can take months to pay this back and mean living off a reduced income for a long time.

Case study: Deductions
Sally built up over £2,000 of rent arrears as each month her Universal Credit deductions meant she was unable to pay her rent in full. The lack of full payment meant that her landlord is looking to evict her. If the deductions had been less severe, she would have been able to afford her rent.

The application process is also proving to be difficult for people who are digitally excluded or without computer skills. Applications for Universal Credit are made online, but one in five CAP clients don’t have internet access either at home or on a smartphone.

Case study: Online applications
Keith and Janet were told they needed to apply for Universal Credit. As the claims are made online this was difficult because they don’t own a computer and are not computer literate. During their assessment period Janet received an email from the Jobcentre asking her to come for an interview, but she was unable to read the email and consequently didn’t go. As a result, her claim was suspended and she had to restart the application process, meaning the couple had to go even longer without an income.

There has been some positive progress – we were pleased to see the Government promise to make the Universal Credit helpline free, as it had previously cost up to 55p per minute to call. That being said, we want to see the Government take further steps in preventing the hardship that we’re still seeing across Universal Credit full service areas.

Here at CAP we want to highlight the problems we’re seeing across our network. We’re talking to MPs and other influential bodies, presenting evidence and standing alongside other organisations calling for the Government to make changes to Universal Credit. We continue to be a voice for people facing financial hardship, speaking up for those struggling to get by and we hope to see change happen.

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