Three million struggling to pay bills

Experts say Britain is in the grip of a debt crisis with millions of people struggling to pay their day to day bills.

Europe’s largest debt collector Intrum says more than a quarter of Britons don’t have their finances under control with parents struggling to make ends meet.

Falling into debt

Debt charity StepChange reported that 40% of their new clients were behind on at least one essential charge last year and the number falling into debt with their bills across the country is three million.

Experts say it’s not about people living extravagant lifestyles, more about households not being to cover the everyday basics.

Sobering

Richard Lane of StepChange said: “It’s sobering to realise the majority of our clients were able to manage their finances until they took a knock to their income, whether through redundancy, shorter working hours or becoming ill, for example.

“It’s not generally a lack of budgeting or over-borrowing that causes debt, it’s more likely to occur because of an income shock.”

Borrowed

Recent research by Intrum found that 44% of British parents had recently borrowed money to buy something for their children.

Almost a third said they had maxed out their credit cards or borrowed money to pay a bill in the last six months.

Official figures

Official figure from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the average British household spent £900 more than they received in income last year, pushing their finances into deficit for the first time since the credit boom of the 1980s.

The overall shortfall was £25 billion, an additional warning to the government who have been warned that a £200 billion consumer credit bubble is about to burst.

Crisis debt

Matt Barlow of Christians Against Poverty said: “Unless you’ve been there yourself, or you’ve known someone close in crisis debt, it’s hard to describe how difficult it can be.

“Debt rarely comes along by itself. It’s often accompanied with a loss of job, health problems, relationship breakdown along with no heating or no food, depression and isolation.”

Food banks

The Young Women’s Trust reports 1 in 10 young parents has used food banks and many have skipped meals because they can’t afford to eat properly.

A survey of 18 to 30 year olds revealed that 1 in 4 live permanently in debt.

Spokesman Joe Levenson said: “Parents want to give their children the best, but are facing huge financial challenges.

A shocking number are having to skip meals or turn to food banks in order to feed their children, and many are getting into debt.”

A Government spokesman said: “Both the employment rate and household incomes have never been higher and there a fewer children living in workless households than ever before.”