Almost 3,000 struggling families in Weston are £12million in debt

PUBLISHED: 09:50 19 August 2014

Archant

ALMOST a quarter of families in the constituency of Weston are in debt, owing £12.25million - and that figure could be the 'tip of the iceberg'.

More than 5,000 children are living in families with problem debt, which is defined as being behind on household bills or credit repayments.

Research shows 23 per cent of families in the Weston constituency are struggling in this way.

This compares to 12 per cent of families in the rest of North Somerset, and 16 per cent across the South West.

Research published this week by the Children’s Society and StepChange Debt has shown nine out of 10 parents in problem debt have cut back on necessary items for their children so they could keep up with repayments.

It can mean children miss out on essentials like food, clothing and heating.

In total, 2,998 families in Weston are in problem debt, affecting 5,201 children and owing £12.25million.

Jackie Simpson, who manages credit union Somerset Savings and Loans which runs a four-day service on Weston’s Bournville estate, said the figures may be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

She said: “While we welcome the Children’s Society report for focusing attention on the plight of so many of our struggling families, it does not take into account the hundreds, perhaps thousands of pensioners, students, singles and couples who are also burdened with debt.

“Including the people without children could push this figure beyond the £20million mark.

“This problem has been built up over the years through a combination of factors including reductions in benefit, static or even reduced wages and 
the withdrawal of crisis loans which helped people make ends meet.

“All this leaves families, which were just managing to cope, vulnerable to being tipped over the edge by unexpected household calamities such as having 
to buy a new washing machine or put 
the car through an MoT. They were 
coping and suddenly they are not coping.”

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