It’s Talk Money Week from 7-11 November and we want to encourage gamblers and people around them to have more open conversations about money.
GamCare’s Money Guidance Service supports our clients to improve their finances through 1:1 conversations about money. In this blog, Senior Practitioner, Deirdre, looks at one of the most common money dilemmas people share with us – whether to lend or give money to someone with a gambling problem.
This is a question we commonly hear from people affected by gambling, highlighting the complex pressures friends and family can feel. Our experience is that lending money rarely helps in the long run.
We often ask, ‘what would happen if you said no?’ The answers we hear express the fears that lead families to lend money again and again. Some of the fears people have include:
I’m scared they’ll lose their home
Making payments for a loved one isn’t a long-term solution. If they have rent or mortgage arrears, they need free, impartial debt or housing advice as well as help with gambling recovery.
An adviser on our Helpline, who has lived experience themselves, told us:
“I paid my parents’ mortgage for them, because I felt my mum didn’t deserve to lose her home because of my father’s gambling. This cycle continued for a few more years. Learning to say no closed off one of the ways my father could escape the consequences of his gambling. When all those avenues were eventually lost, he had to move beyond acceptance of a gambling problem into actively working on recovery. My parents’ home was not repossessed and ultimately this was because my dad was able to break his monthly gambling cycle. I empowered this process by saying no.”
Find out where to get advice below.
They’re paying such high interest they’ll never get out of debt if I don’t clear it
It might feel like you’re helping your loved one by sparing them the high interest charges but it’s not unusual for callers to our Helpline to have several debts. Dealing with just one debt or the creditor who calls every day or charges the most interest doesn’t deal with the long-term problem or break the cycle of debt. Some debts may not be enforceable and there may be options for paying off debts that they didn’t know about or hadn’t considered.
Taking control of their debts could empower them and help with their recovery. Find out where to get debt advice below.
I’m scared my address will be blacklisted and I won’t be able to get credit
Credit scoring depends on the individual, not the address. If you live at the same address as someone who is in debt and your credit rating is affected, you may be able to financially disassociate yourself from that person. If you have joint financial commitments or have acted as a guarantor on a loan, then you may have a financial association on your credit rating. You can get advice about what you can do from Money Helper >>
I’m scared I could be liable for their debt
Living with, being related to, married to or in a relationship with someone in debt doesn’t automatically make you liable for any of their debts. There are some exceptions but you’re usually only liable if you are both named on the debt or if you acted as guarantor on a loan. If you are in doubt, seek debt advice, see below.
I’m scared bailiffs or debt collectors will come to my door
If you live with the person in debt, you may be worried about people coming to the door to demand payment. Depending on the situation and what part of the UK you are in, they may be called debt collectors, bailiffs, sheriff officers, or enforcement officers. Debt collectors don’t usually have any rights to enter your property. Bailiffs, sheriff officers or enforcement officers might but in limited circumstances. Seek advice about your situation, see below.
I’m scared they’ve borrowed money from a loan shark
A loan shark is an unlicenced lender. They are often from the local community and might appear to be a friend or neighbour who helps people out. They often charge extremely high interest and threaten or intimidate those they’ve lent to. People who borrow from loan sharks have not done anything wrong. The loan sharks are acting illegally, and these debts are not legally enforceable.
If you fear that someone is at risk from loan sharks, contact the Illegal Money Lending Team in your country for advice. For more information and links to the Illegal Money Lending Team in your area visit Citizens Advice >>
Protecting your finances
We have more information about protecting your finances in our article Gambling and Family Finances >>
Sources of free, impartial debt advice:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- StepChange – 0800 138 1111
- PayPlan – 0800 280 2816
- Debt advice locator from Money Helper
- Housing advice from Shelter
If you are worried about money or gambling, for free confidential help and support please speak to the National Gambling Helpline in England, Scotland and Wales, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 0808 8020 133, or speak to us online.