Posted: 08 May 2014

We can end problem debt

Working with disadvantaged children across the country, we often meet families struggling with problem debt. When this gets problematic, it causes severe emotional distress for the families and makes it all the more difficult for these parents to give their children a decent standard of living.

Unfortunately, this is a common situation. Our new report, created with StepChange Debt Charity, reveals shocking findings. Some 2.4 million children live in families that are behind on bills and credit commitments, totalling £4.8 billion of arrears. A further five million children are in families that struggle to keep up.

Yet evidence of debt’s effects often focus on the debtor, ignoring the impact on children. We believe this is a huge oversight, and something that must be changed.

That’s why our new campaign, The Debt Trap, is about exposing the impact of problem debt on children, and ending its damaging effects on the whole family. 

Debt harms every aspect of children’s lives

Our findings reveal how problem debt can have an impact on every aspect of children’s lives. Nine out of ten families say they have cut back on essentials like food, clothing or heating in order to keep up with repayments.

Around half of children in families with problem debt said that money worries caused arguments in their family – that’s more than twice the level among children in families not in problem debt.

Problem debt can harm children's school and social lives. One in five children in families in problem debt said that they were bullied because they lacked the things that their peers have, and a quarter said that they were unhappy about their school life. 

We can limit the debt’s destructive power

We need to act to reduce the number of families falling into problem debt, and to reduce the impact on children in cases where they do get into difficulties. Our report makes key recommendations for both local and national government, creditors and regulators.

You can help - watch our new animation to get a fuller understanding of the damage that debt can have on families. Also, be sure to spread the word about this under-reported problem. 

It is absolutely essential to limit the destructive impact of debt on children’s and families’ lives. Together, we can build a society when no child pays the price of problem debt.


Get involved

Join us - watch our short new animation and help build a wall of support for these families, highlighting the need to protect children from the impact of debt.

A red button with the words 'Join us'

By Sam Royston - Policy team

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