Helplines for people with money worries are gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year, with a call about debt expected every four minutes throughout January at the according to the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).

Last year, nearly 3,500 debt calls were made to the free Money Advice Service (MAS) helpline (on 0800 138 7777) in January, while there were 26,000 visits to the MAS debt advice locator, a tool that connects people with the most convenient debt advice providers in their area and over the phone or online. This year is expected to follow the trend, with demand for debt support on the increase.

MaPS, which is the largest single funder of free debt advice in England, helps 560,000 people with free and impartial debt advice every year through their network of expert providers. Traffic is expected to peak each Monday with January 20th due to be the busiest day of all as credit card bills for December arrive before many people have received their first paycheque of 2020. New regulations mean that banks and credit card companies must contact people whose repayments have been going more towards interest, fees and charges than towards the amount they actually owe, warning them about falling into persistent debt. It’s now likely more people will be seeking help to manage this.

MaPS has increased helpline staff by around 20% to manage the surge in call volumes at the start of the year.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Acting Chief Executive of the Money and Pensions Service said “We know what a difficult time of year this can be for families who are worried about the bills piling up. It can be tempting to avoid confronting money worries after an expensive Christmas but the sooner you act, the easier it will be.”

“Debt advice works. You can speak to the Money Advice Service for free, confidential help, connecting you with expert debt advice in your area.”

MaPS says  there are nine million adults in the UK who are over-indebted. That means nine million people find meeting monthly payments a heavy burden or are regularly behind on their bills. Despite so many of us being over-indebted, only a third of over-indebted people are getting help with debt.