With spiralling debt after 10 years of borrowing,
"I'd been indoctrinated into the debt culture at uni," he says. "It was credit card after credit card, instant approvals, thousands dropping through the letterbox. I believed I was going to pay it all off. By the time I got to my late 20s, I realised what I wanted from life but couldn't do any of it because I had more than pounds 27,000 of debt around my neck."
Between 2006 and 2010 personal insolvencies were running at a record high. Broderick kept seeing headlines about people going bankrupt, and about
"The process was straightforward," he says. "I had my income and outgoings assessed and met the requirements of having in excess of pounds 15,000 debt with little disposable income."
There's a stigma around bankruptcy but Broderick, from north
Mulligan says bankruptcy is an option for some borrowers, "but it's not to be taken lightly". You could be forced to sell your home to settle your debts, and there will be other implications. Bankruptcy will stay on your credit file for six years after you have been discharged and your debts written off - normally a year after you enter into it - and will make it harder to get a mortgage or other loans during that period. You might also have to declare it when you apply for a job, and it might rule you out of certain positions.
Mulligan says the service is working increasingly on debt relief orders (DROs). Introduced in 2009, they are similar to bankruptcies but are suitable for people with less debt and income, and allow you to write off your debts, subject to certain criteria. To apply for a DRO (not available in
Mary Joyce*, in her 50s, took out a DRO three years ago after a long period of not working, linked to complications following an operation. "I was finding it hard to buy food, then my mum died and the cost of the funeral made things worse," Joyce says. She'd read about DROs and went to Citizens Advice in
Joyce hadn't been sure if she would qualify for a DRO. But some people find that when allowable expenses are calculated (often using something called the "common financial statement"), there is actually less spare money than they think. "I now live more comfortably and can afford decent food," Joyce says.
Individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) are another option if you owe more than pounds 15,000, own a property, or fail to qualify for a DRO for any other reason. An IVA, which usually has a five-year term, will see part of the debt written off, interest frozen, and payments spread out so they are more manageable. Kennedy says: "For this option you have to have a steady income to keep paying creditors."
He borrowed for his daughter's wedding before an expected pay rise, but cuts meant the rise didn't materialise. "I didn't actually own a house to protect," says Prince, "but I sort-of felt it was morally important for me to pay off as much as possible, which is easier to do through an IVA than bankruptcy."
He and his then wife had a joint IVA. "We owed nearly pounds 60,000. We'd thought it was much less before we added it all up. Through an IVA company, we agreed to pay back nearly half, including a fee, over five years. But we ended up settling early last summer."
Prince says the family had been living on beans on toast, scared to spend anything. "After we started the IVA, we were allowed pounds 100 a week for food for the three of us. It was much better. Me and my son still live on roughly the same budget and feel comfortable and in control. It was definitely the right thing to do," he says.
Kennedy advises speaking to creditors directly if you're finding it difficult to manage and can't - or don't - want to access one of the formal insolvency procedures. "You can ask about reducing payments and potentially set up an informal agreement - a debt management plan," she says.
Organisations, including StepChange and National Debtline have useful online tools for those struggling, and they - as well as Citizens Advice - might be able to negotiate on your behalf. "There's a new app called Debtology which is good, too," Kennedy says.
She also advises those in difficulty to take control of their outgoings. "Try asking for better deals or payment reductions and holidays from businesses you use. Sometimes mobile phone companies will reduce your price plan in the middle of your contract," she adds.
The main thing, she says, is to try to deal with the situation as quickly as possible and research your options.
* These names have been changed
* Debt clearance for those who owe pounds 15,000 or more and have little means of paying it.
* Your assets will be sold to pay your debts. Your trustee can sell your home if this is the only way to pay.
* You will be legally known as a bankrupt for one year, but the status will show on credit reports for up to six years.
* You might have to pay creditors a small part of your income for three years if you have more than pounds 20 a month spare after the bare essentials have been accounted for.
Cost: pounds 700 (sometimes charities help with fees)
* An individual voluntary arrangement is an alternative to bankruptcy which suits those who have assets they want to keep and more than pounds 15,000 of debt
* It can reduce the overall debt. considerably, and typically spreads payments over five or six years, allocating you a budget for essentials.
Cost: Around pounds 5,000 if arranged through a third party, but will be spread out as part of the payment plan
Debt relief order
* For those who have less than pounds 15,000 of debt and very minimal assets and income (no more than pounds 300 assets and a car worth no more than pounds 1,000).
* You must have no more than pounds 50 a month in spare income after bare essentials at the time of taking a DRO and for one year after.
Cost: pounds 90
Debt management plan
* A more informal arrangement which can see reduced payments spread over many years.
* Often, but not always, your creditors will freeze interest and charges.
* Your credit rating will be affected.
Cost: fee-free, depending on who you use, although some companies charge
'Indoctrinated' into the debt culture:
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