Debt counselling moves up to a million

THE number of highly indebted con­sumers applying for debt counselling in South Africa has been increasing on a monthly basis according to the National Credit Regulator (NCR) figures.
The increase in debt applications comes as consumers are grappling with several price increases which include electricity, essential food items and interest rates in recent months. Kedilatile Legodi, debt counselling debt man­ager, cited recent price hikes behind the increase in the number of applications.
“The NCR has noted an increase in the number of monthly debt counselling applications. We attribute the spike to the state of the economy as household income continues to be severely under pressure due to interest rate increase, electric hikes, increase in the price of food and cost of living in general,” she said
Figures from the NCR show that there were 9 948 applications received during December to January, 12 956 for January and February and 14101 for February and March.
Legodi said that the number of appli­cations which were still active was more than 440000, while those who have applied for debt counselling over the past few years stood at over 800 000.
“As at 2016, the number of debt coun­selling applications received since 2007 was 806 816 and we estimate active con­sumers to be in excess of 440 000.
“The active figure is an estimate as our source of information is dependent on updates by debt counsellors,” she said.
Neil Roets, CEO of Debt Rescue, a company which offers debt counselling, said that they had noted an increase in the number of people applying for debt counselling over the past year.
“We have seen a 30% increase in the number of debt counselling applica­tions,” he said.
Roets said that debt counselling was one of the tools which consumers could use to manage debt.
“Debt counselling remains the best way for consumers to manage their debt by negotiating with creditors and paying off their debt in smaller instalments over a longer period of time.
“None of their assets may be attached by debt collectors while they are under debt review,” Roets said.

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