Debt collectors are knocking on the doors of more working households than before, a leading charity has claimed.
Requests for help dealing with bailiffs chasing payments from working parents now make up a fifth of inquires about debt collectors put to the Citizens Advice charity.
They dealt with 60,000 "bailiff problems" between April 2012 and March this year.
Out of these requests, half were parents were with dependent children.
On Sunday it was revealed that the value of UK workers' wages has suffered one of the sharpest falls in the European Union, when adjusted for inflation.
Average earnings increased by 1.7% compared with March to May 2012, 0.2% up on the previous month.
The Office for National Statistics has released new figures looking at the effects of taxes and benefits on household incomes in 2011/12.
- Disposable incomes have fallen since the start of the economic downturn, with average equivalised income falling by £1,200.
- Average original income (before any taxes or benefits) was £31,500.
- On average, households paid 20% of their gross income in direct taxes such as income tax and council tax.
- The top fifth of households had an average income of £78,300, 14 times that of the bottom fifth, who had an average of £5,400.
Inequality of disposable income fell to lowest level since 1986 in 2011/12, according to new figures released by the Office of National Statistics.
This was partly driven by earnings falling for higher income households and by changes in taxes and benefits.
These changes include an increase in the income tax personal allowance and changes to National Insurance Contributions and Child Tax Credits.
Geoff Brown, of Hampshire Credit Union, says the Office of Fair Trading guidelines make it clear there is "an overarching principle of fairness in dealing with people".
He says, based on the OFT's report, payday lenders are not following this advice and "need to".
Sky-high interest rates of payday loans can vastly increase the amount owed. Here's some advice if you find yourself in financial trouble.Read the full story ›
Citizens Advice welcomed the Office for Fair Trading's (OFT's) decision to refer the payday lending industry to the Competition Commission for a full investigation, saying the lenders' focus on speed "means proper checks fall by the wayside".
Chief executive Gillian Guy claimed payday lenders are "recklessly quick to hand out loans" and should instead focus on the "cost of credit and how they treat customers".
Ms Guy said: "Citizens Advice evidence found that in 64% of cases loans come without any checks to make sure the borrower can afford to repay, revealing that lenders aren’t taking the time to establish whether a payday loan is suitable for the customer.
"Debts quickly spiral out of control as those struggling to repay are hit with high interest rates and charges.
"The industry is in desperate need of a transformation from predatory firms to a responsible short-term credit market.”
Martin Lewis, creator of consumer help website MoneySavingExpert.com, said the trading watchdog's decision to refer the payday lending industry to the Competition Commission was "shamefully late".
Mr Lewis called for a cap to be placed on the total cost of loans and said lenders should be forced to take more notice of poor credit histories.
He said: "Finally, politicians and regulators are picking up the ball. Yet it's shamefully late. Millions of people have already spent billions of pounds on these often disgustingly expensive debts that lead many people into financial hell.
"The lax regulation and enforcement in the UK means we've been easy pickings for these lenders.
"Couple that with the gradual diminishing of the Social Fund, which was the one route for people on benefits or with little cash to get short-term, interest-free loans, and it's no surprise so many people fall foul".