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Are you one of the 8.3 million adults with problem debt?

One in six people struggle to cope with the money they owe, meaning they have what’s called problem debt, according to new Money Advice Service research.

Over-indebted individuals are defined as people that say they find keeping up with their bills and credit commitments a ‘heavy burden’, or that they have missed payments for bills and/or credit commitments in three or more of the last six months.

A picture of over-indebtedness in the UK

Our latest report into over-indebtedness in the UK shows not just how many people are in this situation, but also the break down across the UK.

Though there are close to 15.8% of the population in each of Scotland, England and Northern Ireland who are over-indebted, in Wales it’s 17.7%.

When England is split into regions, the North East joins Wales at the same percentage of 17.7%, with London not too far behind at 17.2%. The South East has the lowest figures at 13.3%.

Region

Over-indebted %

Number of over-indebted adults

North East

17.7%

373,963

Wales

17.7%

439,779

London

17.2%

1,190,557

North West

16.9%

964,373

Yorkshire and The Humber

16.9%

724,995

West Midlands

16.6%

756,390

East Midlands

16.2%

608,956

Scotland

15.9%

696,859

Northern Ireland

15.8%

226,516

South West

14.4%

641,607

East of England

14.3%

693,851

South East

13.3%

950,209

 

However when the figures are broken down further to represent the numbers at local authority level, there are certain areas with more than one in five adults struggle with problem debt, often inner-city areas.

These locations include Tower Hamlets, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Greenwich and Hackney from London, as well as Nottingham, Hull, Leicester, Manchester, Sandwell, Lincoln, Sunderland, Stoke-on-Trent, Merthyr Tydfil and Blanaenau Gwent.

What you can do if you’re struggling with bills or debts

There’s evidence that getting free debt advice makes a huge difference to getting out of debt. We found that 65% of people who received regulated debt advice were repaying their debts or had repaid them in full within three to six months.

You don’t need to pay for the help either, so avoid any firms that charge a fee. There are a number of charities and free organisations that will help you work out the next steps.

We have a useful tool that allows you to search through all the options, whether it’s face-to-face, over the phone or via webchat.

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