Children shouldn’t have to pay the price of debt with their mental health

 A boy with words around his head

Children living in families struggling with debt are five times more likely to be unhappy than children in families who don’t have difficulty with debt, putting them at risk of developing mental health problems.

When families fall into debt, parents often face impossible choices between keeping their children fed, warm and clothed or paying off their debts. This can lead to debts spiralling out of control, with interest rates and charges piling up.

That’s why we are calling on the Government to create a ‘breathing space’ scheme that gives parents and young people time and space to repay their debts with no rising fees or visits from intimidating bailiffs.

Take action 

A breathing space will ensure families have access to the help they need, it will:

  • Provide a year long scheme of protection from mounting debt
  • Support families to put in place a longer term debt repayment plan based on affordability for the family/young person
  • Prevent additional fees and charges from being levied for the period that the plan is in place.
  • Place a hold on enforcement action so that children aren't left intimidated and scared by visits from bailiffs and the parents’ debts don’t continue to accumulate.
  • Ensure that those providing advice have policies and services in place to identify and support vulnerable customers
  • Ensure that easy access routes are provided for the most vulnerable families and for young people living independently.

Kelly Tolhurst MP has published a bill to take forward our idea for a breathing space, but it will only become law if enough MPs support it. Email your MP today to tell them to publicly support families in debt.

Read our new report, which looks into the damage that debt causes to children’s mental health.

Struggling with debt? Download our advice for families and young people in debt.

This is the latest stage in our Debt Trap campaign – tackling the damage that debt causes to children. Previous stages have changed the practices of energy companies and local councils. Find out more about our Debt Trap campaign.