There was record demand for debt advice from StepChange Debt Charity in 2016. 599,026 people contacted us for help during the year, the equivalent of one person every 53 seconds. In 2016 there were 3.3 million visits to the charity’s website, an increase of 100% since 2011.
In the first half of 2016, 28% of our clients have asked friends and family for loans which total £200m. This compares to 20% of clients just 2 years ago. The average debt to friends and family is now over £4,000.
In 2015, nearly 1 in 5 clients we helped lived in London, making it the debt capital of Britain. With the knock-on effect of this costing the city £1.4bn a year, our London in the Red report highlights the issues of problem debt in London, with insight into the financial difficulties faced by those in the capital.
In 2015, those who contacted us in financial difficulty were more likely to work part-time and live in rented accommodation. We also advised more families struggling with essential household bills.
This report looks at the changing nature of debt problems we are seeing across our clients in Scotland. By analysing our extensive data, based on over 6,758 telephone debt advice sessions in 2015, we can see some of the key issues that are affecting people with problem debt in Scotland.
In 2014 we saw debt problems rising fastest among single parents and the under-25s. These two groups were significantly over-represented among our client base. We also saw an increasing proportion of our clients in part-time work and rented accommodation falling behind on essential bills.
Based on data collated from our clients in Wales, this report provides an assessment of what we are seeing, including debt levels, the proportion of our Welsh clients falling behind on essential bills such as rent and mortgage repayments, energy bills and Council Tax, along with overall levels of those seeking our advice in Wales.
In 2013 unemployment and reduced working hours were the main reasons people got in touch with us for debt advice. We discovered that, on average, more than 50% of clients waited more than a year between realising their debt was a problem and getting advice.
StepChange Debt Charity provides clients in Scotland with debt advice and specific solutions under Scottish legislation. We currently receive around over a thousand requests for help from clients every month. This report looks at the changing nature of debt problems in Scotland.