The Children's Society has warned of the dangers of ignoring the emotional impact family debt has on children.
Chief executive Matthew Reed said:
Families are increasingly relying on debt as a way to make ends meet - but we're in danger of ignoring the impact this is having on children now and in the future.
We cannot allow children to pay the price of debt.
Poor families facing financial difficulties need "somewhere to turn" other than to unethical and predatory lenders, a leading figure in the Church of England has said.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, gave his backing to a report into UK household debt and the distress it causes children:
– Dr John Sentamu
When the monthly struggle to pay the bills becomes too much, often families think they have no option but to borrow money to provide the basics for their children,.
We need to make sure families living in poverty have somewhere to turn other than to usury-lenders.
One in five (18%) of UK households with children are faced with "problem" debt, according to a survey from two leading charities.
The Children's Society and StepChange debt charity also found:
- On average these households owe £3,437, or an estimated £4.8 billion to creditors and the Government.
- An estimated 2.4m children are living under "problem" debt.
- A further 2.9 million households with dependent children are struggling to keep up with payments on household bills or credit over the past year.
- Almost 18% of 10 to 17-year-olds who took part in the survey had been bullied because of the financial troubles their family faced.
- Over half of the children researchers spoke to said they were embarrassed by their lack of money.
At least 1.4 million families are living with "problem" debt with a further three million households on the verge of sliding into financial difficulty and leaving their children in distress, according to a new report.
The Children's Society and StepChange debt charity have warned about the emotional toll an "extremely precarious" financial position puts on the children of the family.
The stress of keeping up with repayments leads to rows, emotional distress to children and cut backs on essentials, the charities warned.