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Calls for a household debt write-down grow ahead of the budget

  • 8.5 million people now over-indebted  
  • Investment of £6 billion in fund for ‘fair debt write-down’ could boost household consumption by £24 billion 

For more information and interviews contact Eva Watkinson on 07870187861 (Jubilee Debt Campaign) or Damon Gibbons on 07961869473 (Centre for Responsible Credit).  

 A new report released this week by the Centre for Responsible Credit and Jubilee Debt Campaign, ‘A Fresh Start After Covid‑19 – An outline strategy to tackle Britain’s household debt crisis’ [1], finds that an extra 1.3 million people in the UK have fallen into debt during the pandemic. A total of 8.5 million people are now in problem debtfor example, struggling to keep up with their bills [2]. 

This risks slowing the recovery and leaving millions heavily in problem debt.  

So far, the government has been slow to act on the UK’s household debt crisis, but campaigners are calling for new measures to support families in debt. These include a new fund to help those in rent and council tax debt, an overhaul of the insolvency procedures and a new approach to dealing with debts that have been sold on the secondary debt market.  

Campaigners are calling for a fair write-down of debts which have already been sold on the secondary market, arguing that an initial investment of £6 billion to write down debts could boost household consumption by around £24 billion [3]. 

 Eva Watkinson, Head of Campaigns at Jubilee Debt Campaign said: 

The banks were bailed out in 2008, but now ordinary people are being abandoned with unpayable debt in a pandemic. The government must stop ignoring the people affected by the growing household debt crisis and put forward the sort of bold policy solutions as it has in other areas.” 

 Damon Gibbons, Centre for Responsible Credit said: 

“There are 8.5 million people heavily indebted in the UK, that’s 1 in 6 adults. The measures we are proposing will not only support those in debt but will help with the economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

 

The report calls for the government to:  
  • Provide direct grants to households to help clear rent and Council Tax arrears; 
  • Widen access to insolvency procedures, such as Debt Relief Orders, so that more people with low incomes and no real assets can have their debts written off and obtain a fresh start; 
  • Provide people who enter Debt Management Plans with a ‘fair debt write-down’ if their debts have been sold on the secondary debt market; and  
  • Freeze all evictions and bailiff action to enforce household bills until this wider package of solutions has been implemented and the recovery from Covid is underway.  

 

Notes:  

The Jubilee Debt Campaign is a UK charity working to end poverty caused by unjust debt through education, research and campaigning: https://www.jubileedebt.org.uk  
  
Jubilee Debt Campaign’s Privacy Policy is available at https://jubileedebt.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Privacy-policy.pdf  

[1] A Fresh Start After Covid‑19 – An outline strategy to tackle Britain’s household debt crisis’https://jubileedebt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/A-Fresh-Start-After-Covid19-web.pdf  

[2] Financial Conduct Authority (2021, p. 23), ‘Financial Lives 2020 survey: the impact of coronavirus’. https://www.fca.org.uk/publications/research/financial-lives-2020-survey-impact-coronavirus  

[3] P.10 A Fresh Start After Covid‑19 – An outline strategy to tackle Britain’s household debt crisis’https://jubileedebt.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/A-Fresh-Start-After-Covid19-web.pdf 

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