24 January, 2014
A new report on debt in Wales shows a significant year on year increase in those who fall into arrears on household bills and those taking out payday loans, increases which are mirrored in the higher numbers of people receiving debt advice from StepChange Debt Charity.
Based on more than 20,000 people in Wales who contacted the charity’s helpline, Wales in the Red provides important new insight into the problem facing people and communities. Examining a wide range of issues, including the increasing proportion of clients falling behind on essential living costs, as well as the rapid growth in payday loans, the report’s findings are broken down by category of debt in each of the 22 unitary authorities in Wales for each year from 2010 to 2013.
Key findings include:
- A 44 percent increase in the last year alone in the number of people needing advice on the charity’s helpline;
- A significant rise in the proportion of StepChange Debt Charity clients with payday loans in Wales, rising from 2.6 percent in 2010 to 18.3 percent in 2013, with the average amount owed in payday loan debt increasing by 25 percent in the same period;
- A substantial increase in the number of StepChange Debt Charity clients in Wales falling behind on essential living costs, such as rent, mortgage payments, energy bills and Council Tax.
Commenting on the new figures, Chief Executive of StepChange Debt Charity, Mike O’Connor said:
“This is a wake up call for all those concerned with the damage done by problem debt to individuals, families and communities in Wales. More people are getting into arrears on basic household essentials, such as rent and fuel. More and more people are turning to payday loans to get through the week.
“Turning to high cost credit to pay everyday bills results in a downward spiral into further and further debt, with potentially catastrophic results. The situation in Wales is getting worse, not better. The sooner people take action the easier it will be to solve the problems they face. StepChange Debt Charity is there to provide free advice and practical solutions to problem debt. ”
Download the Wales in the Red report (pdf).
Notes to editors
- The report Wales in the Red is based on the 23,391 people in Wales who were advised by the charity’s helpline between 2010 and 2013.
- The charity’s Cardiff office has 14 advisers offering a combination of general and specialist debt advice. In partnership with the Welsh government, StepChange Debt Charity runs the Housing Debt Helpline Wales, offering specialist debt advice to people struggling to meet their mortgage or rental payments.