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Low income debt problems

Debt is splitting our society in two. Our research shows a stark contrast between those on lower incomes who struggle with debt repayments and higher earners who cope, despite owing more.

Three quarters of people who come to StepChange Debt Charity for help with their debt problems earn less than £20,000 a year.

High fees

Using data provided by our clients, we calculate that the average debt of someone on a low income is nearly £18,500. Many are trapped in a cycle of debt, spending a over £100 more than they earn each month. Higher income clients owed on average nearly £40,000, but their higher earning power meant that they still had money to spare at the end of the month.

Both groups can fall prey to fee-charging debt management companies, some of whom have been branded by the OFT in 2010 as misleading and incompetent. Fees can top £5,000 – adding to the problems faced by people struggling with debt.

Debt relief order

A debt relief order (DRO) is a form of insolvency introduced by the government. It is specifically designed for people on a low income with debt problems who have little or nothing to offer their creditors, and who are unable to afford bankruptcy.

A DRO costs just £90, but only people who have less than £15,000 with less than £300 in assets are eligible. It provides affordable debt relief to those low income people overwhelmed by relatively small levels of unmanageable debt.

StepChange Debt Charity are an accredited intermediary able to administer debt relief orders. They are one of the many options we can offer people struggling with debt on a low income.

Free advice

StepChange Debt Charity is the leading national debt advice charity. The debt advice we offer is free, impartial and confidential. Our online tool, Debt Remedy, will identify the ideal solution to your debt problem. Alternatively call our Helpline on 0800 138 1111, which is open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and Saturday 8am to 4pm.

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Helping you become debt free...

"I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt. They were a pillar of support to me." (Leslie, Essex)

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