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Children becoming 'unwitting victims' of debt

The Children's Society and StepChange Debt Charity are calling for:

  • The development of a 'breathing space' scheme to give struggling families an extended period of protection from additional charges.
  • A review as to whether protection for children against harm caused by debt collection - including evictions, bailiffs and court action - is working.
  • Provision of earlier and wider access to debt support and advice to help families avoid the downward spiral of debt.
  • The imposition of tighter restrictions on advertising loans to children.

Families in Wales are increasingly relying on debt as a way to make ends meet, but we're in danger our ignoring the impact this is having on children now and in the future. We cannot allow children to pay the price of debt.

With little savings to fall back on, it can take just one unexpected setback - like illness or being made redundant - to tip a family over the edge and into a debt trap that can feel impossible to escape from.

– Matthew Reed, The Children's Society

The charities say children's lives are affected by debt in a number of ways, including:

  • Bullying - children in families with problem debt are more than twice likely to be bullied because they don't have the same things as their peers.
  • Worry - more than half of children in families with problem debt say they worry about their family's money situation.
  • Going without - nine of out ten families struggling with bills say they have to cut back on essentials like food, clothing or heating in order to keep up repayments.

As parents become trapped in a toxic cycle of debt, children can become the unwitting victims. This is not acceptable in a society that aspires to justice and fairness.

We need concerted action to ensure financially vulnerable families are given 'breathing space' to help them get back on their feet and protect both children and families from the most harmful effects of debt.

– Mike O'Connor, StepChange Debt Charity

Thousands of children in Wales growing up with debt

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Almost 150,000 children in Wales are living in families struggling with debt, according to a study published today.

Research from The Children's Society and StepChange Debt found that 86,009 Welsh families are failing to keep up with household bills and loan repayments.

The charities say that each struggling family is around £2,058 behind on payments and, across Wales, families owe around £177million in bills and loans.

The study found that a third of families have had to borrow money to pay for essentials for their children in the past year, which can often lead to families falling into what's known as the 'debt trap' or 'debt cycle'.

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Report finds welfare reform has impact on children

Welfare reform is having an impact on many families in Wales, according to a new report.

The study, published by the charity Children in Wales, highlights the need for better services in rural areas in particular.

It also highlights a number of common concerns that families have raised, including an increasing reliance on foodbanks, and worries about changes to the benefits system.

Sean O'Neill is the Policy Director for Children in Wales, and he says these worries will have a negative impact on children.

Welsh homeowners fear rising energy prices

A survey found that rising energy prices were causing concerns.

Nearly three quarters of homeowners in Wales fear rising energy prices, more than any other region in the UK, according to a recent survey by Kingfisher.

Over a third of homeowners surveyed also said that their second biggest fear was keeping the home, with the third biggest fear being general maintenance and upkeep.

Watch: The 50p meal that's a 'luxury'

Food, petrol and energy are all essentials for living - and now lots of people in Wales say they're struggling to pay for them.

According to Shelter Cymru and Citizens Advice Bureau thousands of families are finding it hard to cope.

Megan Boot has been speaking to one woman from Penarth who says it's only a matter of time before she has to choose between eating and heating.

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70% of Welsh people worried about rising living costs

37% of people asked in Wales say they're cutting back on groceries to make ends meet Credit: PA

Rising living costs are leaving thousands of Welsh families struggling to cope financially, with many cutting back on food and heating to try to make ends meet. That's according to new research published today by Citizens Advice Cymru and Shelter Cymru.

The figures reveal that 70% of Welsh adults are worried about the rising cost of living, and more than half struggle to keep up with bills and credit commitments.

Food, petrol and energy costs were particular concerns, with 48% of people admitting they were cutting back on gas and electricity.

The research also found thousands of households have no safety net, with 25% of those in employment saying they would not be able to pay their rent or mortgage at all if they lost their job.

In last year's survey this figure was 18% and it's been suggested the increase could be a result of people no longer being able to put money aside for emergencies.

Shelter Cymru: "Wales is a long way from economic recovery"

New research shows thousands of Welsh families are struggling to cope financially, due to rising living costs.

Many say they're cutting back on food, energy and petrol to make ends meet.

The Director of Shelter Cymru John Puzey says Wales is a long way away from an economic recovery.

"Cutting back on food and heating in order to meet the rent or mortgage can only ever be a short-term measure. A severe winter or an increase in interest rates could be all it takes for families to hit crisis point and potentially lose their home."

"Besides the devastating impact that this has on the health and well-being of individuals concerned, especially children, dealing with the outcomes of homelessness has significant financial impacts on local services, which themselves are experiencing severe funding cuts."

– John Puzey, Shelter Cymru
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