Schufa survey: consumers face insolvency due to corona - WELT

Storno fees for trips, canceled assignments, short-time work - for many people the corona crisis associated with financial losses. Some of them even have one Credit taken to stay afloat. Now many are worried, theirs Schulden no longer being able to pay off.

That could now become a problem: Half of the borrowers fear that it will be “rather difficult” or even “very difficult” for them in the future, existing ones loans to be paid off. Apparently, it was mainly people with low incomes who took over borrowing. The lower the income, the greater the worry about not being able to repay loans. This was the result of a representative survey by the credit agency Schufa, which WELT is exclusively available to.

Despite the corona easing and the progress of vaccination, more people are worried about their financial situation than in February. At the time, only a third of those surveyed feared that it would be difficult for them to repay them in the future.

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Around 32 percent of borrowers assume that they will have to cut or pause their installments in the next six months - more than in February (28 percent). "Despite increasing optimism, we see that the financial difficulties have worsened for some people," says Schufa board member Ole Schröder. Overall, however, the situation is good: "We do not see any increase in payment disruptions in our database."

In order to meet the obligations, those affected are apparently increasingly going to their savings. In June, almost one in three citizens said they had resorted to reserves during the pandemic. In November 2020, only 23 percent did so.

Almost one in seven borrowed money from friends or relatives

Around 36 percent of citizens have recently postponed planned major purchases. And almost every seventh person even has money with them Friends or have to borrow relatives, like the Schufa numbers demonstrate.

This money seems to be slowly running out, if you believe the debt counseling services in the country: "We know from our 300 or so Caritas debt counseling centers that the rush is currently high," says Mathilde Langendorf from the German Caritas Association.

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In many places there are longer waiting times, especially when it comes to a first appointment and especially in rural areas - in other words, where the density of help offers is low. That's a problem. Because debt counseling has not only been working at its capacity limit since Corona. "Even before the pandemic, it is estimated that only 20 percent of over-indebted households could receive advice," says Langendorf.

Caritas therefore calls for a right to free debt counseling for everyone. "Currently, the law does not provide that the self-employed receive free debt counseling," says Langendorf. However, the pandemic has shaken the existence of many - restaurateurs, showmen, artists.

Experts are calling for more debt counseling services

Only an individual legal claim to the advisory service ensures access to debt counseling for all target groups. “That cannot be done without expanding the debt counseling service,” explains Langendorf. Basis for this should a generally recognized requirement key .

According to the Caritas Association, at least two full-time debt counselors are required for every 50.000 inhabitants so that all those affected can be advised promptly.

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Existential worries

Peter Kenning, Chairman of the German Advisory Council on Consumer Issues, also points out that many people have to put up with long waiting times. "Here it would be politically wise to make further financial resources available, among other things for debt counseling," said the government advisor.

More money for debt counseling? For this, the respective federal states would have to increase the funds. After all, public advice centers are often paid for from the state coffers. The SPD in Nordrhein-Westfalen In the course of the additional need, calls for a so-called “notification euro” to better finance debt counseling. All creditors who apply to the district court for enforcement should therefore an additional “notification euro" have to pay.

Insolvency proceedings shortened to three years since Corona

However, the legislature was not inactive in the Corona year 2020. Since last October, a change in the bankruptcy code has enabled over-indebted consumers to free themselves from their mountain of debt within three years. So far, the process time for personal bankruptcies was six years.

Those affected would have waited for the new law and postponed their proceedings until the spring, suspect some debt counselors. However, consumer experts like Kenning do not have specific figures. "If you consider that the legal changes came into force in autumn 2020, this effect should, in my opinion, weaken soon," says Kenning.

Laut the Federal Statistical Office In the past Corona year 2020 alone, a total of 588.000 people sought help from debtors and insolvency advice centers due to financial problems. They are often sponsored by government, public, and non-profit organizations, and advice is usually free of charge.

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Obviously, when they hope for help, those affected don't just keep an eye on the debtor adviser: they rely on the courtesy of their bank when they do existing loans due to the corona crisis difficult to operate. Around 58 percent trust their institute. This enabled the banks to win the favor of consumers again, as only a narrow majority of 53 percent did so in February.

The economy should also benefit from the positive vaccination effect

For most consumers, however, the corona crisis seems to have passed without any deep cuts. "The basic mood has improved," says Schufa board member Schröder. People are back in the buying mood. “This is good news for the German economy. ”For the first time since September, less than half of those surveyed express fear of the future (45 percent).

Reason for this especially the ongoing vaccination campaign. 85 percent of those surveyed expect positive effects on the overall economic situation. And a little more than half believe that the development will also have a positive effect on their own finances.

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