Perth Citizens' Advice Bureau
This participant is a 63-year-old man living with his wife who has retired and is receiving her state pension and a small private pension. He had long been the main earner in his house and had been receiving a significant salary working as an engineer. Unfortunately, he developed several significant physical health problems which led him to have to stop work, and he is currently receiving Statutory Sick Pay. Fortunately, the client and his wife are astute with their personal finances and are managing well with their reduced income, thanks mostly to their having repaid their mortgage previously.
The participant had a debt of an old loan with a major High Street bank; this had initially been approximately £20,000 and the bank had taken him to court several years ago. They had been granted decree and had been recovering the debt via a wages arrestment for several years, and the client had already repaid over £17,500, vastly reducing the outstanding amount. Unfortunately, his health problems had stopped him working when repaying the debt was within his sight. He was very worried about the bank forcibly bankrupting him now he could no longer pay the remainder of the debt. We were able to allay his fears about bankruptcy as the debt was under £3,000 (this was confirmed with the creditor), so the bank did not have the option of petitioning for his bankruptcy and there was no risk to his home.
We spent time putting together a detailed financial statement with the client that showed he had a small deficit of income (as he suspected), and this really limited his options for dealing with the debt. We discussed the client’s health with him, and the option of seeking a medical opinion from his GP about the degenerative nature of his illness, to prove he would not recover enough to return to work. We planned to use this to negotiate with the bank and ask them to write off the remainder of the debt as unrecoverable.
The participant was happy to proceed in this way and once the GP’s letter was received, negotiations started with the bank. What was expected to be a relatively easy negotiation with the bank was very long and drawn-out, causing further stress and anxiety to the client. Eventually we made a complaint on the client’s behalf pointing out that they had medical proof that he was now physically and mentally frail and vulnerable, and that they had treated this request with little sensitivity and compassion, especially considering they had already recovered the majority of the original debt.
Thankfully the Complaints department agreed with our assertion and have now agreed to take no further collection action against the client.
When we followed up with the client, he stated that his depression has lifted somewhat, now that he is not worrying about his home being taken from him, nor being hassled by debt collectors.
To make an appointment please call the Positive Futures team on 01738 450581 or email:
The Positive Futures programme is part-funded by the European Social Fund, Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust.