Number with debt problems hits record high

Ryan Bembridge

September 7, 2016

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People seeking help with debt problems has hit a record high in 2016, StepChange Debt Charity has found.

Over 300,000 people sought advice from StepChange between January and June – the highest half year number ever seen.

More than three quarters (77%) who contacted the charity were renters, demonstrating the gap between people in the private rental sector and homeowners.

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People typically owed £13,826 each in the form of credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange, said: “These figures paint a worrying picture of the reality of problem debt across the UK.

“Too many of our fellow citizens are struggling just to make ends meet. Problem debt costs the UK £8.3bn in external costs like additional healthcare spending and lost productivity.

“Problem debt is bad for your health, your relationships and the economy. Debt is a serious issue for people who are working as well as for those who are not. If we are to help people and their families get back on their feet and contribute to a growing economy, the government needs to take the issue of personal debt seriously.

“The government has said that it will review proposals that would see people seeking debt advice given ‘breathing space’ – time during which interest and charges would be frozen and enforcement action halted whilst people try to get back on their feet.

“The increasing numbers of people seeking our help shows that people who are struggling need help and the government must now take action which is long overdue.”

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