According to Citizens Advice, UK households are facing a “debt timebomb”, which compares the “wild west”, debt advice industry to the payday loan sector of a decade ago.
The charity said it is helping increase the number of people with a negative budget, where their income is not enough to cover essential expenses, making debt “unavoidable” for millions during the cost of living crisis. Interesting and alarming Cost of Living insights are contained in this link.
According to its latest statistics, 51% of those it helps with debt are in a negative budget, compared with 36% in 2019. In addition, the average debt client now has £0 left over each month, compared with more than £15 in 2019.
The maths speaks for itself – a household debt crisis is coming, and we have a choice about whether to prepare,” said Matthew Upton, the policy director at Citizens Advice.
“You would hope that what greets them here is a system and set of solutions that will help them get back on their feet, or at worst, not make things actively harder for them,” he said.
“The reality is very different. The most apt description is a wild west – search online for options to pay off debts, and you’ll be bombarded by profit-seeking firms offering misleading advice about debt solutions which won’t help. Fall behind on bills and you could find unregulated bailiffs knocking at the door.”
According to the charity, the use of individual voluntary arrangements – where people make monthly payments for five to six years before their debts are wiped – has soared over the last 20 years to make them the most common debt solution.