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StepChange warns of record numbers seeking help for debts so far in 2016

Between January and June this year, a record number of requests for problems debts were received by StepChange, the charity has revealed. Over 300,000 people asked for advice from the charity in those six months, this is the highest half-year figure since they started keeping records back in 2011.

Each person owed an average of £13,826, commonly built up through credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans. The total amount of debt owed amounted to £2.4billion. Worryingly this figure only takes into account those that got in touch with StepChange for debt advice.

The charity found that younger part-time workers in rented accommodation are the group most likely to seek out their help. Renters, of whichever age, are most likely to get in contact with the charity over problem debt, up to 77% from 55% in 2011.

This increase in debts owed and the amount of people seeking help is thought to be a result of the increase of zero hours, part-time and temporary contracts. Those types of contracts combined with rent rises, which are outstripping wage growth, are thought to be exacerbating the UK’s debt problems.

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As a result of these recent figures, StepChange has again called for six month’s breathing space for those struggling with debt. This breathing space would stop creditors adding interest or enforcing any legal action, such as CCJs. It would give those in debt the time to get back on their feet and come up with a plan to repay what they owe.

StepChange chief executive, Mike O’Connor, had this to say about the increase in those seeking help; “Debt is a serious issue for people who are working as well as for those who are not… The increasing number of people seeking our help shows that people who are struggling need help and the Government must now take action which is long overdue.”

Debt is a serious issue in the UK at the moment and many feel that more needs to be done to help those who are struggling financially. These figures from StepChange highlight the issues surrounding the cost of living and the places where the jobs market, housing market and consumer retail prices differ.

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