Debt is risking mental health of youngsters across the North-East and North Yorkshire

Research conducted by Opinium on behalf of The Children’s Society, highlights that tens of thousands of children across the region are at risk of mental illness due to their families being trapped in debt.

The study shows that more than 90,000 children in the North-East are living in 55,000 families trapped in problem debt. In North Yorkshire, there are 25,500 children living in 14,600 families struggling with debt problems.

The Children’s Society says that youngsters in low-income families with multiple debts are at a far higher risk of experiencing mental health problems than those in families who owe money to a single type of creditor.

In some cases children are going without basics such as food, clothing or heating, as well as suffering worry, anxiety and bullying.

In Darlington alone there are 2,200 families trapped in problem debt, while in the wider County Durham area the figure is 12,200. This equates to an estimated 24,100 children in the region affected by their parents’ debt.

The four most common debt problems revealed by the survey are arrears on energy bills, followed by loans from friends and family, bank loans, and council tax.

The evidence also shows that families with children are more than twice as likely to have been trapped in problem debt as childless households.

The survey found that, across England and Wales, 20 per cent of families with children have struggled with problem debt in the last year. By comparison, the proportion of households without children who have fallen into arrears with one or more creditors is just under eight per cent.

The Children’s Society is now urging the Government to introduce a 12-month ‘breathing space’ scheme to give struggling families a period of protection from additional charges and enforcement action while they put their finances in order.

 

Read more about this research here.