Over 1.5 million Britons seek debt advice

The Momentum UK Team 10 January 2012

Not-for-profit debt agencies have seen the number of people seeking debt advice rise by 10% over the last year, a new survey has found.

Around 1.54 million people sought debt advice in 2011, compared with 1.4 million the previous year, the study has shown.

Figures also show that 10 million individuals in the UK - around one-fifth of the adult population - find themselves in a "constant struggle" to manage their debts.

The figures come from research conducted by the University of Nottingham on behalf of the charity Money Advice Trust.

Rising unemployment and stagnant wage growth against an increase in inflation have been blamed for the additional 140,000 people seeking debt help.

It also predicts a hike in demand for advice on debts in the first half of this year.

These figures correspond with other recent surveys such as those carried out by the Post Office, which predicts that 2012 will see 12 million people running up debts on their credit cards to fund day-to-day living costs.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: "2011 was a tough financial year for many families across the UK; unfortunately more people are likely to struggle in 2012.

"With unemployment rising and wage growth relatively flat, whilst prices are going up, it's going to take a greater proportion of household income to heat your home, put food on your table and petrol in your car.

"In short, day-to-day living will take up more and more of your money, which can make it hard to pay the bills."

Elson added that many individuals were resorting to extreme measures to get on top of finances, with some even selling pets and treasured jewellery to simply to 'make ends meet.'

Individuals are encouraged to seek free, independent advice from a specialist debt advice service to help avoid these last-resort measures.