Bank balances will be starting to wear thin for many in Gloucestershire, with Christmas excess taking its toll and the January sales offering extra temptation.
Average income families will take until June this year to clear their Christmas debts. The average adult usually borrows £685 over the festive period, the Trade Union Congress has has claimed.
One in six families borrowed money to pay for food, drinks and presents, with households borrowing at an average of £654 per adult.
The union also said it could take up to a year for minimum wage workers to pay off their debt, if they were to borrow this sum.
This year has also seen a rise in the number of people visiting Gloucester Foodbank.
Liz Manly from the foodbank said: “The day before Christmas we fed 80 people in three hours alone. The people who visit us are not necessarily in debt but they may experience delays in their benefits. If their benefits changes or circumstance the money can stop for a while.
“In December we were horrendously busy we did not know which way to turn. We had enough food which was great but we were short of space.”
The number of people visiting the bank in Great Western Road, in the first 10 days after Christmas in 2013 was 37 adults and four children but this year figures have risen. Staff at the bank have welcomed 108 adults.
A total of 350 people visited the foodbank in December 2012 but 458 visited last month.
Liz added: “We have had an increase in the number of people visiting in December, it is a busy month for us, because in other months we usually have an average of 350 visitors.”
Gloucester’s Citizens Advice Bureau has also been helping people across the city with the stressful time.
They have reported that this Christmas, more people than ever before have also taken out payday loans as a last resort.
The bureau often advises those who have taken out a loan to sort out how much money they owe, work out which are the most urgent debts to pay off, work out if they have got any money to pay their debts off and, if so, how much deal with the most urgent debts as a matter of priority.
Norman Gardner, bureau manager for Gloucester and district, said: “Since Christmas we have seen more people seek help with their debt issues. Some people come with issues with falling behind with benefits, housing costs or pay day loans.
“Nationally we have seen 39 per cent of people seeking debt help online between December 26 to January 6. We have seen 23,8000 people turn to the bureau nationally.
“We would advice people not to bury their heads in the sand and get help immediately.”