Debt counseling in SH is reaching its limits | NDR.de – News

Status: 09/23/2022 05:00 a.m

War, energy crisis, inflation – everything is getting more expensive. For many people, this means financial bottlenecks. The debt counseling agencies in the country notice this. More and more people seeking advice come from the middle class.

by Carsten Salzwedel

800 euros down payment for gas. Every month. Before it was 60 euros. An extreme example, says Michael Grossnick, head of the Debt and Insolvency Advice Center (SIZ) in Kiel – but there are those seeking advice who come to him with exactly such letters. Gas customers who had very cheap contracts with special conditions are suddenly upgraded by their providers, says the debt counselor. For many it is only doubled or tripled discounts, which can also lead to payment difficulties.

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Appointments are gone in minutes

They are eleven consultants in Kiel. Even before the energy crisis, they were busy. Now they are reaching their breaking point. There is a lack of staff. The professionals notice that more and more people need advice. On Monday morning they make appointments over the phone, and they’re gone in a few minutes. “The acute cases will now increase. Even people who previously had nothing to do with debt at all, who may have managed just fine with their money, they will now become our clientele. Because they simply can’t cope with the horrendous down payments ” says Grossnick. It affects not only low earners, but also the middle class.

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Demand especially high in big cities

The counseling center is supported by the Diakonie Schleswig-Holstein, like the 18 other centers in the state. Everywhere the Diakonie noticed a higher need for advice, says spokesman Friedrich Keller. This is particularly the case in large cities such as Kiel, Flensburg and Lübeck. This is due to the fact that a particularly large number of people with low incomes live there, for example students, pensioners and precarious workers, explains Keller. He criticizes that the one-off energy price flat rate of 300 euros does not help them, even if the Diakonie welcomes the federal government’s third relief package in principle. According to Keller, the help must be constant and targeted, i.e. tailored to people who really need help. And he calls for additional funding for debt counseling in the country so that more counselors can be hired.

Go to debt counseling as soon as possible

Michael Grossnick emphasizes that anyone who needs help should contact a debt counseling center as soon as possible. Some offers of help only take effect in the same month from which an invoice is issued. But even apart from that, it is better to get an overview of the financial circumstances early on and to disclose potential savings.

Grossnick expects that debt counseling services will receive even more inquiries in the future. At the moment there is a wave of those who are being sent high gas discount requests. Next come higher monthly payments for electricity. Both can get really expensive. In the worst case, energy suppliers turn off gas and electricity when the bills are no longer paid. And then those affected are literally left in the dark.

Further information

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