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Locked Out: Examining the impact of problem debt on people's housing situations

Our research looks at how our clients' problem debt affected their access to housing and the security, quality and affordability of their homes, at a time they were trying to stabilise their finances or repay their debts.

Problem debt has caused issues for many of our clients, including being made homeless, being unable to move into a new home, feeling forced to move from their current home, or simply putting up with problems because of the worry of eviction. Our research found:

  • Poor credit ratings affected clients' access to housing
  • Problem debt forced clients into expensive private rentals
  • Clients felt less secure in private rentals compared to social housing
  • Housing quality had a negative impact on energy bills

Man on the phone

Nat's story

"Stressed that I can't afford to pay the ever-increasing rent, but we can’t find anywhere cheaper. My partner is very often angry, or upset, at problems with the house. I can't even begin to imagine being able to raise enough for a deposit on any property."

Read more about Nat's experience in our report

What can be done?

Our findings show that the private rented sector is increasingly becoming the only sector where people in problem debt can find a home, but this is at the expense of affordability, security and quality of their housing.

Our recommendations include:

  1. There should be a cross-government review of the use of the private rented sector for housing vulnerable people.
  2. Introducing voluntary initiatives where paying your rent on time could improve credit ratings without taking out new credit agreements.
  3. Including protections from eviction for rent arrears in the government’s new Breathing Space and statutory debt repayment plan schemes.
  4. Evaluating the impact of introducing open-ended private tenancies and an end to 'no fault' evictions in Scotland so other UK nations could build on this policy.

Contact our policy team

Email us for more information on our debt research and statistics across the UK.

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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)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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*This is the average rating of our service based on the StepChange reviews on Feefo by DMP and DRO clients three months into their solution.

© StepChange Debt Charity 2018