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Managing finances has become "very tough" for the consumer as the economy suffers the impact of the credit crunch, an expert has said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, chief economist at GLC hedge funds Stephen Bell has said banks are increasingly wary of making loans.

He said: "Banks are afraid [consumers] won’t pay it back. When banks turn on the taps and give us all a bit more credit we are less likely to default on another bank debt."

A consumer credit crunch would be a "big deal" for the economy, he added.

However, Mr Bell predicted there could be a fall in the base rate of one per cent within the next 12 months.

For some borrowers, however, a decrease could come too late as high interest rates have pushed the cost of their debt to increasingly unaffordable heights.

There is a wealth of advice and options available to those who are struggling with their borrowing and repayments. One option is to seek an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA).

IVAs are usually arranged through an insolvency practitioner and the courts, and prevent creditors from contacting the debtor. They can freeze interest and ensure debtors only make repayments they can afford.

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