17 to 24-year-olds are becoming mired in bad debt, and the 'big easy' lenders should back off

Official data shows this generation now have an average unsecured debt of £12,215 – triple the amount before the financial crash

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The Independent Online

It doesn't look like a great time financially to be a young adult. Citizens Advice warned this week that today's 17 to 24-year-olds face becoming a generation mired in problem debt. Anecdotally, I've heard tales of young people slipping into money problems after being handed easy credit – but the charity's report, “Unsecured and insecure?”, provided more evidence.

Worryingly, the number of debt issues forcing young people to turn to the charity for help has soared by more than a fifth in the past year to 102,296. Meanwhile, official data shows this generation now have an average unsecured debt of £12,215 – triple the amount before the financial crash: it stood at £3,988 in 2006.

Crucially, most of that rise in debt is down to young adults turning to bank and payday loans or borrowing from friends and family – rather than planned borrowing such as a student loan.

There isn't evidence to show whether young people are borrowing because they need to, or simply because easy credit is readily available.

Either scenario is alarming. If there is a generation forced to borrow just to get by, and becoming mired in debt problems as a result, then there's something desperately wrong with our society. That is something for our politicians to examine closely and put right.

And if there is a generation being sold easy credit and getting into financial trouble as a result then that's something that the financial regulators should investigate.

More education to help youngsters handle money and debt problems would help, but lenders and credit card companies should also be forced to take responsibility for the credit they hand out so easily. Fine them if young adults get into out-of-control debt? Why not?

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