Horticulturists’ trade charity Perennial is experiencing a dramatic increase in demand for its debt advice service, dealing with in excess of £1.2 million of debts on behalf of its clients over the past year. There has been an increase both in the complexity of cases coming through and in the number of creditors seeking charging orders as a way of enforcing repayment; horticulturists who find themselves in this position face a high risk of losing their homes.
Perennial’s Director of Services, Sheila Thomson said: “In the current economic climate it clearly isn’t surprising that we are seeing a sharp increase in demand for this service. One positive aspect is that people now seem more willing to ask for help, and at an earlier stage – we have even had calls from people starting out in horticulture who want advice on how to avoid getting into debt. People are coming from all sectors in the industry, but the numbers of arboriculturists and landscape gardeners facing financial difficulties has risen most noticeably – probably due to a greater awareness that Perennial’s help is available to all trades within horticulture.
“We anticipate that in the coming year the need for debt advice will increase at a time when raising funds is becoming more and more difficult, so challenging times lie ahead for Perennial.”
Perennial has found that debt is more common among those who are under the age of retirement, and the reasons are most commonly short-time working, lay-offs, redundancy and illness. Perennial’s Debt Adviser has been involved in taking a number of cases to the Financial Ombudsman Service, including instances where Payment Protection Insurance was mis-sold and has now been refunded.