Sharon McDougall - 31st March 2023 - 2 minutes to read
The number of people seeking out debt advice from the charity StepChange increased by around 20 per cent last year.
According to the charity’s official statistics for 2022, as many as 580,000 people sought support from its advisors in relation to their debt issues last year, which represents an increase of almost 100,000 compared to the previous 12 months.
Worryingly, the average amount of unsecured personal debt owed by UK consumers asking for help from StepChange increased by roughly 25 per cent and by nearly £2,000 per person between 2021 and last year.
The charity has characterised its own data as reflecting trends across the country which have seen more and more people struggling to manage their debts against a backdrop of soaring energy bills and rapid food price inflation.
“Energy bills are still overwhelmingly higher than they were a year ago, and despite government help, these simply aren’t manageable for thousands of households,” explained Richard Lane, director of external affairs at StepChange.
“This crisis is hitting those on the lowest incomes the hardest, and will do for years to come unless tangible support is put in place to stop problem debt from escalating,” he added.
StepChange is convinced that problem debt issues will continue to worsen in Scotland and across the UK in coming months unless targeted government action can be taken to support people who can barely make ends meet.
The charity has warned that it is not only low-income households in trouble financially but middle earners as well who are now seeing their debt problems mount.
Even if the cost of living crisis were to ease over the course of this year, an enormous toll has already been taken on the financial stability of households right across the UK, according to StepChange’s latest data.
“It can’t be underestimated the damage that has already been done to people’s finances with significant arrears built up on household bills, and many mortgage holders and renters facing steep increases in housing payments,” said Mr Lane from StepChange.
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