A new set of debt figures have illustrated the extent to which people across the UK were already struggling financially prior to the coronavirus crisis.
The debt help charity StepChange says that it was contacted by as many as 635,000 people in relation to debt problems over the course of last year, which equates to roughly one person every 49 seconds.
On average, the people reaching out for advice and support on debt issues had insecure debt outstanding worth £14,129, which represents an 8 per cent increase in just three years.
Women, single parents and young people aged between 18 and 39 were statistically more likely to get in touch with StepChange for debt advice last year, the charity says.
A quarter of all those who became StepChange clients last year were single parents and 87 per cent of all those single parents were women.
Credit cards and overdrafts were the two most commonly referenced form of debt used by StepChange clients in 2019, with almost seven in 10 having credit card debts and roughly half having at least one bank overdraft open in their name.
The figures illustrate some of the challenges consumers were facing last year and the fear is that the coronavirus situation will be making debt issues much worse for very large numbers of people across Scotland and the UK.
“These figures tell us that financial resilience is already critically low, despite the fact that most of our clients come from in-work households,” said StepChange’s chief executive Phil Andrew in a statement.
“We know that three million people across the country are already in problem debt and 9.8 are showing signs of financial distress.
“Unless people are well-supported through any upcoming period of financial difficulty, we can only expect the demand for debt advice to rise.”
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