Health Insurance & Protection is part of the Business Intelligence Division of Informa PLC

Informa PLC | About us | Investor relations | Talent

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Record numbers seeking debt advice

Unexpected life events are the biggest causes of problem debt

The number of people seeking debt advice has reached a record high, according to figures from the charity StepChange.

In the first six months of the year, 331,337 people contacted StepChange for help with their debts.

Of the 190,484 new S clients who received full debt advice, the average level of unsecured personal debt was £13,799, representing a rise of 2% in the past six months and 6% since 2016.

Around a third of new clients’ outgoings were more than their incomes – the average monthly shortfall for clients with deficit budgets is £365.

The figures also reveal that unexpected life events are the three biggest causes of problem debt, with those experiencing a reduction in income (18%), injury or illness (16%) or unemployment or redundancy (16%) making up the bulk of new clients.

Phil Andrew, chief executive of StepChange, said more and more households are struggling to hang on and are ill-equipped to deal with any economic shocks the future may hold.

“By taking concerted action to curb unlawful bailiff behaviour and waking up to the impact the five-week wait for Universal Credit is having on those who have experienced a sudden drop in income, it can go some way to stemming the rising tide of those in problem debt,” he said.