One in five expect to be driven into problem debt this year, says charity

StepChange Debt Charity said more action is ‘clearly needed’ to help households.

A fifth of people believe external financial pressures will drive them into problem debt this year, according to StepChange Debt Charity (PA)
A fifth of people believe external financial pressures will drive them into problem debt this year, according to StepChange Debt Charity (PA)

One in five people (21%) believe external financial pressures will drive them into problem debt this year, according to a charity.

Three in 10 (31%) are expecting to struggle to pay for essentials such as a healthy diet and clothing that is appropriate for the weather, StepChange Debt Charity said.

Nearly half (47%) of people anticipate they will use up their savings this year.

The findings come from a survey of more than 1,600 people in March.

They were released to mark StepChange Debt Charity’s annual Debt Awareness Week (March 21 to 27).

While the initial raft of support announced in February was welcome, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated an already difficult situation and more action is clearly needed

Phil Andrew, StepChange Debt Charity

StepChange said its own modelling suggests that if energy bills hit £3,000 per year, the most financially vulnerable households will be spending £1 in every £6 on energy costs – more than double the amount the charity says they pay now.

Ahead of the spring statement this week, Phil Andrew, chief executive of StepChange, said: “While the initial raft of support announced in February was welcome, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated an already difficult situation and more action is clearly needed.”

A separate report from Nationwide Building Society, which tracked millions of transactions made by its members in February, found spending on utilities and bills rose by 15% compared with February 2021.

The amount that the Society’s members spent on fuel and electric vehicle charging rose by 70% – due to the increasing cost of fuel, more people switching to electric vehicles and more people commuting to work after pandemic lockdown restrictions have eased, Nationwide said.

Mark Nalder, head of payments at Nationwide Building Society, said: “As inflation impacts how much money we can spend and where we are spending it, we expect overall spend to outstrip last year, particularly in areas where the rising cost of living is likely to be having a big impact, such as utilities, bills and fuel.

“We do, however, anticipate the need for many households to curb non-essential spending as they do their best to balance family finances.”

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