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'Worrying' rise in household bill debt

New research by the Citizens Advice Bureau reveals an increase in the number of people getting into debt. They say they are concerned that more people are getting into debt over essential household bills.

Citizens Advice Bureau say more people can't pay household bills Credit: ITV News

It's a huge concern to us. This new trend we have identified means people on low income are clearly struggling to meet everyday costs of living. Sometimes it only takes one life event to mean people do have debt. for example lose their job or become ill that can trigger someone getting into debt and that can be a real struggle for some people.

– Julie Ann Evans, Citizens Advice Bureau

In the past year the advice service has helped 26,400 people with more than 124,500 debt-related problems.


Debt tips for young people from Citizens Advice

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire/PA Images
  • Work out a basic budget, including rent, gas, electricity, travel and food
  • Prioritise the most important bills. The consequences for not paying some debts, like rent or council tax, can be much more serious than for others, so paying these first is important. Once you have done that, you can look at your budget and work out how much can go towards other debts
  • Make the most of the offers available to young people. Under 25s can often get discounts on travel and you may not have to pay council tax if you are in full-time education or on an apprenticeship. Check for more information

Citizens Advice: Young people's average debt is £12,215

Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

A new generation of young people are burdening themselves with "stifling" levels of debt, Citizens Advice has warned, after seeing the number of requests for help from this age group surge by a fifth in a year.

Across Wales and England people aged 17 to 24 have asked the charity for help with 102,296 debt issues in the last year - a figure 21% higher than the previous year.

Citizens Advice also said its analysis of official data, covering the UK as a whole, found that young people have £12,215 of "unsecured" (non-mortgage) debt on average, more than three times the average £3,988 debt just before the financial downturn between 2006 and 2008.

There have also been changes in the types of loans they are shouldering.The charity said that while much of the debt rise is due to student loans, there has also been an increase in "formal" loans such as bank or payday lending, as well as borrowing from friends and family.

Many young people already face challenges getting on the career and housing ladders - doing this while saddled with huge unsecured debts makes it an uphill struggle.

– Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice

People 'tipped into debt simply by having a bill to pay'

Victoria Winckler from think tank the Bevan Foundation says it is "really worrying" how many people in Wales are in too much debt.

She said: "There is a problem at the bottom of the scale, where people simply don't have enough to make ends meet, and they can be tipped over into financial difficulty through no fault of their own, such as the birth of a child or having a bill to pay."


One in six people in Wales 'in too much debt'

400,000 people in Wales - around one in six of the population - are in too much debt, according to a new report.

The report was commissioned by the Welsh Government and delivered by the Public Policy Institute for Wales.

The Welsh Government says low income is strongly linked with indebtedness and financial exclusion - where people cannot access lower-cost borrowing and resort to payday lenders or loan sharks.

We know that one in six people are being over burdened by debt, which is too many.

While there are many factors which cause people to go into poverty we believe that the impact of the UK Government's welfare reform is too deep, too fast and changes to the benefits system, including the bedroom tax, is contributing to the poverty problems faced by individuals, families and communities in Wales.

Credit unions offer a real, community based alternative to traditional banks and payday lenders.

– Jeff Cuthbert, Communities and Tackling Poverty Minister

Drop-in debt advice

Debt and benefit surgeries are being run in Carmarthenshire for residents struggling with debt.

RDP Sir Gâr are hosting free drop-in surgeries advising on benefit claims, debt management, entitlement checks, getting back to work and budgeting.

The surgeries are part of the Rural Community Inclusion project that aims to increase the availability and accessibility of basic services and facilities in rural areas.

The idea is to reach out to people who are unable to access central services. People can come to me with a whole range of queries.

In terms of debts, it can be anything from basic budgeting to more complicated things like dealing with creditors.

– Bex Llewhelin, surgery organiser

To find out more contact: Bex Llewhelin or call

01267 242 344 / 07717 527252.

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