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Helping to Manage Gambling Debts

20th September 2016

GamCare were joined by debt management specialists PayPlan for a chatroom to support problem gamblers affected by debt. In case you missed it, here are the top tips they shared.

GamCare hears from thousands of people affected by debt each year. Whether you owe £100 or £100,000, debt can be scary and stressful, making you anxious and even depressed.

We co-hosted a chatroom with PayPlan today, aimed at answering burning questions from anyone affected by gambling-related debt. PayPlan offer free debt and budgeting advice - below is a round-up of some of the advice they shared today.

Firstly, before you can seriously tackle debt long-term, you need to tackle the cause of it. Essentially, if you have acknowledged that gambling is causing your debt, any debt management plan(s) you create will be hindered if you continue to gamble. For instance, if you’re gambling on credit cards, even within your limit, that can still count as debt and may still be a problem.

Once you have taken steps to address your gambling behaviour, you can really begin to manage your debt and budget better. PayPlan Debt Adviser, Jane Clack, says budgeting is key – whether you are in debt or not. Add up all of the expenses, (outgoing money and payments) that keep you fed, keep a roof over your help and ‘keep the wolf from the door’, and then you can have a better idea of what’s left over to either spend or save. Keeping within this budget is essential.

A contingency or emergency fund is a good idea if you can put a little aside when you have covered essentials and priority debt. If the temptation to gamble with your savings is proving too much, try saving with a delayed access account. Jane says: “Most banks or building societies will offer accounts like this, called Notice Savings Accounts. It gives you breathing space if you can’t access your money without giving a certain amount of notice – some will be about seven days, some may be up to 90 days.”

One question today focussed on joint mortgages, and whether it is possible to sign over the mortgage to one party. Jane says: “Very few mortgage companies will be happy to sign over, especially if you’re in negative equity – essentially, they prefer two people to liable for shortfalls instead of one, even if you no longer reside in the property. If there is equity and one party can demonstrate that they are able to pay the mortgage in full, or they can buy the other party out, that may be an option.”

If you are going through a divorce and are affected by debt it’s best to take free advice from an organisation like PayPlan, your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau or the Money Advice Service.

You can also post questions on www.debtquestions.co.uk for answers from Advisers like Jane.

We also received a question around liability for someone’s debt if they live with you. The short answer is that you are only liable for debt if your name is on a contract or agreement, regardless of whether you live with the person in debt. Credit ratings are also only affected if you are the person in debt, this is not based on your address.

If you have other questions regarding debt, check out our information pages. Remember, ignoring your debt won’t make it go away. Moreover, seeking help for the causes of your debt can make a huge difference in the long-term. Find out how GamCare can help.