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Debt Awareness Week launches with new survey findings

20th January, 2014

A new survey, commissioned by StepChange Debt Charity, reveals that many people are underestimating the seriousness of their debt problems.

Although 15 million people in Britain are showing some sign of problem debt*, over a quarter of these remain unconcerned.

The survey, conducted for the charity by YouGov, asked participants questions about the kinds of debt issues they faced and – crucially – how worried they were about them. 

Fifteen million adults (31 percent) revealed at least one of the five signs of problem debt*. Particularly worrying is the fact that almost three million (six percent) have used credit to pay other credit commitments in the last year – even though two thirds of them are in full-time work.  

As well as borrowing to meet credit commitments, other indicators of problem debt include falling behind on essential household bills, relying on credit to make it through to pay day and making minimum payments on credit cards.

Some people are closer to the edge than others:  just under three million adults are deep in financial difficulty, having shown three or more signs of problem debt* in the last 12 months.

Commenting on the survey findings, the Chief Executive of StepChange Debt Charity, Mike O’Connor said:

“Too many people are not taking action to deal with their debt problems. 

“Debt Awareness Week, which we are launching today, is all about getting people to recognise the early warning signs of problem debt.  The sooner people take action the easier it will be to solve the problems they face.  Problem debt can have a devastating impact, not just on individuals but on families and whole communities.     StepChange Debt Charity is there to provide free advice and practical solutions to problem debt.”

The five danger signs of debt

StepChange Debt Charity is urging to people to recognise that they may have a debt problem if they are doing any of the following:

  • juggling or falling behind on essential household bills
  • borrowing to make it through to pay day
  • making just the minimum repayments on your debts
  • borrowing more to pay off existing debts
  • getting hit by late payments or overdraft charges

StepChange Debt Charity’s Debt Awareness Week runs January 20-26. For more information visit stepchange.org/debtawareness

Notes to editors:

  1. Figures from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 4,442 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th – 20th December 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  2. Figures have been grossed up, using the ONS 2012 Mid Year estimates of adults in Great Britain: 48,788,716.
  3. *StepChange Debt Charity asked the following questions to determine whether respondents were displaying signs of problem debt. These tally with the findings of Collard, S. et al, 2012. Working Households’ Experience of Debt on signs of financial distress.

Contact the StepChange news team on:

Tel: 0207 391 4598

Mobile: 07985 404 153

Email: press@stepchange.org

Follow our press team on Twitter: @StepChange