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Monday

 

MSer on benefits for 14 years allowed to rack up $69,000 of debt


A disabled man who has been on benefits for 14 years was allowed to rack up $69,000 of debt.
Bryan Smith says he is too hard-up to ever settle his debts – and blames banks for lending to him in the first place.
The 46-year-old dad of two took out loans and credit cards amounting to more than £35,000 and fell into £8,000 arrears by failing to keep up with his utility bills.
He said: “People say I should feel remorse but there’s nothing I can do. I don’t have any income.”
Bryan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis when he was 25 and by 1999 had had to give up his job as an engineer. He cannot walk more than a few feet so needs a mobility scooter and has restricted ­movement in his hands.
Bryan started borrowing in 2001 to try to keep his family in the lifestyle they had enjoyed when he had a job.
“When I was working I was taking home around £450 to £500 a week,” he said. “Suddenly I was getting just £12,000 a year in benefits. It was a big drop.
“My kids needed clothes, I had to put food on the table and pay the bills.”
He applied for credit cards and once those were maxed to £5,000 he went back to the bank. “They said they could give me a ‘top-up loan’ of £15,000 – and I went ‘Woah!’” he said. He took the money.
A few years later he was back asking for more. He got another £5,000 which he said was to help a friend pay for flights to visit him in the UK. By 2008 his debts were pushing £35,000. A backlog on his bills took that to £42,000.
He maintains it is not all his own fault, saying: “I got myself into this situation – but is it my fault? I would say maybe 30 to 40 per cent.
"The rest is the people who gave me loans. They knew I had no job, they knew I was ­disabled with MS. They could have said no.”
Brian, from Brighton, East Sussex, buried his head in the sand, but in 2010 he started getting letters demanding repayment and realised he needed help.
He went to a debt ­settlement company which helped him write off some loans. But three years ago he married fiancée Tatiana and, because she has a job, he had his benefits cut.
He now gets £76 a week in disability living allowance and his wife pays the £46 a week for his council flat.
Bryan, who still owes £20,000, says he will not be able to repay it, adding: “There’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”

How it all racked up

  • £5,000 on two credit cards
  • £15,000 on bank loan
  • £5,000 on further bank loan
  • £9,000 interest payments on credit cards and loans
  • £8,000 backlog on energy and water bills



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