Debt tightens its grip over households

UK households will find servicing their debts an increasing burden during 2011, according debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).

Its research suggests that at the end of last year, the average household was paying almost £200 per month in interest, representing 23.8% of available income. This share rose by 0.1 percentage points from the third quarter, despite a £2 quarterly fall in interest payments as rising prices of essential items outweighed wage increases and thus reduced discretionary income.

Against this economic background, the charity plans to monitor the impact of the cost of credit on the ability of households to meet the costs of everyday living in the months ahead.

Demand for debt advice is forecast to remain high and rise in the coming years as unemployment worsens across the UK. Demand for debt advice is expected to hit another peak in 2014, indicating the lasting distress caused in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Middle-aged and elderly people in particular will be increasingly affected by debt problems. The report predicts that CCCS’s share of clients over the age of 45 will rise from an historic 28.0% in January 2005 to a projected 47.6% by December 2014.

Fastest increasing areas of debt help need are Wales and the most highly urbanised areas of the UK such as Yorkshire and the Humber, which have seen double-digit increases in demand for advice. Yet the areas with the highest actual demand for counselling are London and the North West.

CCCS chairman Lord Stevenson said: “While debt levels continue to decline