Furious voters have branded David Cameron out of touch with the pressures that debt-ridden consumers face in response to his keynote speech at the Conservative Party Conference, says Scottish Insolvency Company, Sequestration.net.
The original speech called for people to take responsibility for boosting the economy by paying off their credit and store cards: "The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households – all of us – paying off the credit card and store card bills."
However, when released to the media the night before the conference furious voters lambasted Mr Cameron for his failure to understand that there was nothing left for people to pay off their debts with after basic bills had been paid.
The speech was hastily rewritten overnight to "That is why households are paying down the credit card and store card bills" amid criticism that his simplistic views ignored the problems consumers faced as they struggled to overcome pay freezes and rising unemployment.
A Citizens Advice Scotland spokesperson said in response to Mr Cameron’s speech: “Scottish CAB advisers see people every day who are drowning in debt. The average debt among our clients is now well over £20,000. It is far too simplistic to say that everyone in debt should simply pay off their debts, and that would solve the problem. Most people who are in debt would love to do that, if only they could. But how can you pay off your debts if you have lost your job, or if your income is barely enough to cover your basic living costs from week to week? That’s the reality for many of the people we see.”
“People get into debt for a whole number of complex reasons. Every individual case is different, and needs an individual solution. It would perhaps be better if the government concentrated more on helping people stay out of debt in the first place, or stopping small debts from snowballing into unmanageable ones.”
The average household debt is now more than £21,000, with UK-wide personal debt at £1.5 trillion and unemployment standing at 2.5 million. The latest figures show that the economy has stagnated since last autumn with little growth, increasing fears of a double dip recession. Some quarters believe that Mr Cameron was unwise to mention paying off debt at all. Large numbers of people doing this could lead to economic disaster as disposable income would be diverted away from the retail sales.
A spokesperson for Scottish Insolvency Company, Sequestration.net, says: “It is impossible to conceive that one of this country’s leaders could have thought he could go up on a stage and tell people with no money that the stagnating economy is down to them and that they need to pay off their debts to boost it. Fundamentally, the economics of his statements are not right because the recession has been complicated by a debt crisis, and if everyone devoted all their money to paying off only their debts they would be no retail spending and businesses will fail. That would increase unemployment.
“There are many people out there who are hovering on the brink of financial disaster. They want to pay their debts off so they have more disposable income and some breathing space, but their wages have been frozen or dropped or they’ve been made redundant. They can only pay what they are paying, often only the minimum payments, and no more. They live with the constant fear that one more price hike or an interest rate rise and they won’t be able to pay at all.”
Government borrowing topped £15.9 billion between August 2010 and August 2011, bringing the total debt owed by the UK to £2,266 billion. With inflation out of control and the cost of petrol, food and energy rising exponentially, the UK faces the toughest economic times they have faced in a decade, especially in Scotland.
Shadow Scottish Secretary Ann McKechin said: “Families don’t choose to go into debt, and they don’t need the Prime Minister preaching to them. Maybe on Planet Cameron everyone can reach into their pockets and pay off all their debts, but back in the real world families are struggling with rising bills, soaring energy prices and petrol going through the roof. Cheap words are easy for a man like Mr Cameron, but his policies actually make life harder for most people. Lecturing people on responsibility when he is slashing child benefit and increasing VAT is crass and will infuriate millions of Scots.”