‘Debt deniers’ must seek help sooner

An increasing number of people are in ‘debt denial’ by leaving it too late to seek help, as a third of people contacting the ombudsman with mortgage problems are already in arrears.

Last year 13,659 people, the highest number ever recorded, contacted the ombudsman for help regarding a mortgage or secured loan problem.

Tony Boorman, chief ombudsman at Financial Ombudsman service, said: “Mortgages are the most significant purchase most of us will make in our lives, so we understand why people might be reluctant to say that they’re struggling to pay for their home.

“Many of the cases where people face losing their home have been heart-breaking to deal with – but could potentially have been avoided. So if money is tight, you should never be afraid to ask for help or guidance. Speak up sooner rather than later, there’s a lot that can be done to help before things get out of hand.”

Of all the cases received by the ombudsman where people said they were in severe financial difficulty, half involved mortgage problems.

The ombudsman has been working with lenders to make it clear that they’re expected to get creative when helping people get back on track.

Boorman added: “Consumers and lenders all have a responsibility to work together when problems arise. And though it pays to be realistic about the options available to you, if your lender isn’t listening, we’re here to give you practical, honest advice to help sort out your problem.”