More than a tenth of the adult population expects to fall behind on their finances this January, while less than a third have set a personal budget and ‘perilously few’ have a plan to repay the debts they currently owe, according to new research from National Debtline, run by the Money Advice Trust.

 A poll of more than 2,000 British adults conducted online by YouGov for National Debtline found that 11 percent of Britons say they are likely to fall behind in January as a result of Christmas spending, equating to an estimated 5.5 million people.  Less than a third (32 percent) have set a budget that they try to stick to, and only one in eight (12 percent) have a plan for repaying any debts they currently owe.

 The charity is expecting its busiest January in years this month, as households recover from Christmas spending – with its research suggesting that an estimated 2.5 million people are likely to look for advice about money or debt in the coming weeks.  The findings follow a Christmas period that a third of British adults put on credit, and a period in which household borrowing has increased significantly. National Debtline and its sister service Business Debtline took an average of 715 calls a day in December, and National Debtline helped more than 40,000 people online during the month – making this Christmas period the debt advice service’s busiest in four years. 

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said “January can be a difficult month for household budgets – and it is easy to see how many people fall behind when the bills for Christmas spending begin to land.  Unfortunately our research shows that perilously few households have a plan for how to repay the debts they currently owe – and many could fall into serious difficulty as a result.

“This is also of course the month for New Year resolutions, and with fewer than a third of us having set a budget for our personal finances, resolving to set a budget for 2017 should be at the very top of the list.  For most people, setting a budget for income and expenditure is the single biggest step they can take to regain control of their finances and start to tackle their debts.”