StepChange Debt Charity has today released an update on the profile of its clients in June – and emphasises that, while the increase in borrowing recorded in today’s Bank of England data may help boost spending in the economy, there are still too many people having to turn to borrowing to make ends meet.
June trends in StepChange client characteristics are very consistent with earlier periods: people struggling with problem debt consistently include a number of over-represented groups, and common debt types.
The StepChange website had 325,000 visitors in June, with the emergency funding page continuing to be the single most-visited page, with 14,000 visitors.
Around 13,000 people completed a debt advice session with StepChange in June. One in ten specifically cited the impact of the pandemic as a reason for their debt.
Credit cards were the most common type of credit debt among new StepChange clients, while council tax arrears were the most common form of household bill arrears – a consistent trend.
Around 3 in 10 new clients in June had a deficit budget, 3 in 10 were on Universal Credit, 3 in 5 were women, and 56% were under 40.
Richard Lane, Director of External Affairs at StepChange, said: “Today’s data from the Bank shows that, for the second month running, UK households in aggregate have returned to borrowing more than they repaid in consumer credit. But we shouldn’t forget that, for the hardest-pressed households, turning to borrowing to make ends meet was happening right through the pandemic too. Such households have accumulated a significant backlog of arrears.
At StepChange alone, we’ve already seen over 10,000 new clients over just the past couple of months applying for the Government’s new breathing space scheme to give them a short respite from collections activity while they concentrate on putting in place a plan to resolve their debts; we continue to believe further policy interventions will be needed to address the accumulated debt backlog that has arisen as a result of the pandemic.”