2.5 MILLION children are living in families struggling with ‘problem debt’, said a shocking new report released yesterday.
The report, aptly entitled ‘The Dept Trap’, was produced by The Children’s Society and StepChange debt charity. They say that many families are in an ‘extremely precarious’ position and taking out loans to pay for food, gas, electric and rent.
The report shows that a further 2.9 million households with dependent children were on the brink of sliding into financial difficulties and had been struggling to keep up with payments on household bills or credit over the past year.
The report says the impact of debt problems on children means many are suffering from anxiety, face bullying at school and having to go without essentials. ‘Problem debt’ is defined as being in arrears on at least one bill or credit commitment.
Mike O’Connor, chief executive of StepChange, said: ‘This report is a stark warning to policy makers, creditors and the wider society of the devastating effects of debt on children.’
The report includes a survey of 2,000 UK households with dependent children, an online survey of 4,442 adults, 15 in-depth interviews with families with debt problems and a focus group of young people in Manchester.
The survey of UK households suggests ‘problem debt’ currently affects nearly one in five (18%).
The survey found that on average these households owed £3,437 – giving an estimated total of £4.8bn for all households across the UK.
The report includes comments from children who are in families who are struggling with debt. It makes a call on government to work with creditors and other groups to develop a ‘breathing space’ scheme to give struggling families an extended period of protection from default charges and enforcement action.
It also calls for a review of the protection given to families with children against debt enforcement, including the potential harm caused by evictions, bailiffs and court action.
However, the only solution to the debt crisis facing families is forcing the TUC to call a general strike to bring down the Cameron coalition and bring in a workers government and socialism.