8.8m UK adults have serious debt concerns

Almost nine million people in the UK are struggling with serious debt problems.

A new study by the Money Advice Service highlights the scale of the…

Almost nine million people in the UK are struggling with serious debt problems.

A new study by the Money Advice Service highlights the scale of the issue and shows that at least 8.8 million Britons are not being sensible when it comes to managing their finances. 

For the purpose of the research, indebted was taken to mean at least three months behind on bill repayments at some stage over the last six months – these people admit their arrears are now a heavy burden on them. 

The consumers who are struggling represent 18 per cent of the UK's adult population, which means nearly one in five are in serious financial trouble. Some four million have been in debt for over a year. 

Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the Money Advice Service, is worried by the results. She said: "Millions of people could escape their spiral of debt by accessing … advice. We know it transforms lives and the sooner people access it the better to take steps to improve their life for good.

"However, this study presents us with a fundamental challenge; the majority of people with debt difficulties do not seek advice."

In terms of regional differences, Hull is the worst area affected, as 43.1 per cent of the population are struggling with debt, followed by Nottingham (41.2 per cent) and Manchester (41.1 per cent). 

Around three-quarters of those who are in arrears said they are very unhappy as a result. 

If the situation becomes untenable, individuals should seek out expert guidance in order to take back control of their finances. For example, debt management plans and individual voluntary arrangements can help consumers deal with their money worries. 

The scale of the problem was also highlighted by the Centre of Social Justice, which recently completed a large study that found homelessness is on the increase as people cannot keep up with their mortgage or rent repayments. 

By Joe White

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