We need urgent action to address Britain’s household debt crisis.
Even before the Covid‑19 pandemic 7.2 million people (fourteen percent of the population) were heavily burdened by debt and research by the Money and Pensions Service had found high concentrations of debt problems amongst lower income households, renters, younger households, and families with children – especially single-parent households.
These same groups have faced further financial pressures because of the pandemic, which has also had a disproportionate impact on people from ethnic minority backgrounds and the low paid self-employed. The result has been a fifteen percent increase in over-indebtedness. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warns that, of the 8.5 million people now in this position, as many as 6.7 million may not yet be receiving debt advice but think they will likely need to seek this within the next six months
We need a new strategy from the government to address our household debt crisis.
- Provide direct grants to households to help clear rent and Council Tax arrears;
- Widen access to insolvency procedures, such as Debt Relief Orders, so that more people with low incomes and no real assets can have their debts written off and obtain a fresh start;
- Provide people who enter Debt Management Plans with a ‘fair debt write-down’ if their debts have been sold on the secondary debt market; and
- Freeze all evictions and bailiff action to enforce household bills until this wider package of solutions has
been implemented and the recovery from Covid is well underway.
This briefing provides further detail of the case for action and the measures needed in each of these areas.