Eight million people living with a ‘debt problem’

13th February 2015


Eight million people in the UK believe they have a ‘debt problem’ and it is taking an increasing toll on people’s lives.


Research from the Debt Advisory Centre shows that 16% of adults, equal to eight million people, consider themselves to have a ‘debt problem’. Those aged 35 to 44 were most likely to say their debt had reached problem levels, with 19% stating it was a problem compared to just 8% of over-55s.


Of those that have a problem, 92% said they worry about what they owe and nearly half, 49%, worry ‘often’ or ‘all the time’. Despite having the lowest number of people in debt, those in the over-55 age group were more likely to worry about it – with 56% of over-55s in debt saying they are concerned.


The impact of this over-indebtedness stops people sleeping, their relationships and both their physical and mental health.


Half of people with problem debt say it is impacting their sleep and 38% said it is affecting their mental health. A third of people said their relationship with their partner had been impacted and 31% said their debt had taken its toll on their physical health and well-being.


One in 10 people said it had affected their performance at work.


While there is little difference in the number of men and women with debt problems, women are twice as likely to worry about their debt than men. A third of women said they worry about debt ‘all the time’ compared to 16% of men.


Ian Williams of the Debt Advisory Centre said: ‘The link between over indebtedness and mental healthy problems are well established. What our survey reveals is how problem debt can affect every aspect of people’s lives.


‘The real tragedy of these figures is that there is plenty of debt help available. The Money Advice Service, Citizens’ Advice Bureau, and…the Debt Advisory Centre can all provide help, advice and financial and emotional support. In our experience, however, it is very common for people to bottle up their debt problem – keeping it away from their nearest and dearest.’


He added: ‘In reality there’s a way out of every problem – and the sooner people take the plunge and tackle it the better.’



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