The impact of debt has once again come close to home this week, as we have been helping give information about mortgage arrears to a concerned friend. We used the very helpful "Advice Guide", run by Citizen's Advice which I can strongly recommend (http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/).
This comes at a time when the Children's Society and Step Change have published a report that is backed by the Archbishop of York. Called "The Debt Trap", this report lifts the lid on the devastating impact debt can have on children. Their findings show that children are suffering worry and anxiety, bullying and going without essentials as their families are trapped in problem debt. The report makes for grim reading, as this summary from the Archbishop of York shows (http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3080/bullying-anxiety-and-going-without-new-research-exposes-true-impact-of-debt-on-children):
* Two and a half million children live in families with problem debt, who are behind on £4.8 billion of household bills and loan repayments. A further five million children are in families that are struggling to keep up with repayments and risk falling behind.
* Bullying - Children in families with problem debt are more than twice as likely to be unhappy at school and be bullied because they don’t have the same things as their friends.
* Worry - More than half of children (58%) in families with problem debt say they worry about their family’s financial situation
* Family - Half of children in families with problem debt (47%) say it causes arguments in the family.
* Going without - Nine out of ten families in problem debt say they have had to cut back on essentials like food, clothing or heating for their children in order to keep up repayments.
* Early exposure to debt - More than half of children aged 10 to 17 said they saw advertising for loans ‘often’ or ‘all of the time’. But only one in five children said that their school had taught them about money management and debt.
We are trying to do our bit in addressing some of these problems, working with churches, other faiths, food banks, charities and councils to upskill people to be able to deliver a simple budgeting course, so that everyone can take the first steps to learn to budget. We are also working with groups and the national charities Community Money Advice and Christians Against Poverty to help set up more free debt advice in communities.
It's such a big problem, but working together we can tackle poverty.
Notes: To read a fill copy of the Debt Trap Report, please visit http://www.archbishopofyork.org/york/data/files/resources/3080/Debt-Trap-Policy-Report-low-res.pdf
Author: James Henderson
Date: 14 May 2014
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