Problem debt a huge headache for York families – more than 7,000 children affected

Children suffer when their parents find it difficult to pay the bills. Photograph: The Children's Society
17 Nov 2016 @ 12.01 am
| Charity, Family, News

More than 7,000 York children live in families struggling with problem debt.

That’s 4,000 families in the city who have been failing to keep up with household bills and loan repayments in the past year.

These figures come from a survey by The Children’s Society. Researchers also found that there are about 4,150 children living in 2,460 York families who have faced council tax debt alone.

And last year, 3,870 bailiff referrals were made in the York area – or 45 for every 1,000 households.

The most common source of problem debt is arrears on energy bills, followed by loans from friends and family, bank loans, and council tax.

Going without

Call for debt ‘breathing space’
Call for debt ‘breathing space’

The Children’s Society is deeply concerned about the damaging impact of debt on youngster’s lives.

In some cases children are going without basics such as food, clothing or heating, as well as suffering worry, anxiety and bullying.

Rob Jackson, Yorkshire and Humber Area Director at The Children’s Society, said:

With unfair and unsustainable repayment plans, hidden charges, soaring interest, visits from intimidating bailiffs and the fear of eviction, the odds are stacked against parents who are desperate to find a way out of their debt.

Meanwhile mums and dads are being forced to make impossible decisions between feeding and clothing their children, and paying the bills.

As part of its Debt Trap campaign, the charity is calling for changes to how creditors treat families with children who fall behind on bills and repayments.

It is urging the Government to introduce a 12-month ‘breathing space’ scheme to give struggling families a period of protection from additional charges, mounting interest and enforcement action while they seek advice, put their finances in order, and get back on their feet.