The charity says that debt levels have risen by a third amongst its clients since 2003, so that the average is now £13,153 – 17.5 times their average monthly income.
“For many there is little prospect of their income increasing or their circumstances changing,” said CAB chief executive David Harker.
“The reality is that they are condemned to a lifetime of poverty overshadowed by an inescapable burden of unpayable debt.”
Worst at risk were those with low incomes, whom Mr Harker said were usually badly informed about loans and got themselves into debt through a lack of financial knowledge.
But debt resolution experts ClearDebt believes many could find a route out of debt using an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA), rarely recommended by CABs.
“Many debtors fail to realise they are insolvent and therefore eligible for an IVA which can reduce the total required to be repaid very significantly and which also freezes interest at the outset, usually sharply, reducing the amount debtors need to repay each month,” says ClearDebt chief executive, David Mond.
“Some advisors are also wary of recommending IVAs to lower-income debtors because the fees taken by IVA arrangers can make either passing or repaying a tough prospect,” he added.
“The exceptionally low fees taken by ClearDebt makes anIVA a realistic proposition for debtors who owe as little as £7,500 – typically, ClearDebt IVAs reduce debt by half.”