OVER 2,500 children in South Somerset are living in families trapped by debt, research by the Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity has revealed.
A new study shows almost 1,546 families cannot keep up with bills and loan repayments, which means across the region families owe a total of £6.3million in bills and loans.
An investigation by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity earlier this year found that debt puts stress on family relationships and traps families in a downward spiral of borrowing.
Children’s Society chief executive Matthew Reed said: “Families are increasingly relying on debt as a way to make ends meet, but we’re in danger of ignoring the impact this is having on children now and in the future.
“We can’t allowchildren to pay the price of debt.
“With little savings to fall back on it can take just one unexpected setback, like illness or being made redundant, to tip a family over the edge and into a debt trap that can feel impossible to escape from.
“This research exposes the shocking reality of parents lying awake at night worrying and unhappy children going without.
“Many families are feeling the squeeze and parents struggling on low wages are battling just to pay the bills.”
StepChange Debt Charity chief executive Mike O’Connor said: “This research is a stark warning to policymakers, creditors and wider society of the devastating effects of debt on children.
“Families face a unique set of pressures, but the sad reality is that for many parents credit which is often unsustainable has become the only way to cover their essential household bills.
“As parents become trapped in a toxic cycle of debt, children can become unwitting victims.
“This isn’t acceptable in a society that aspires to justice and fairness.
“We need concerted action to ensure financially vulnerable families are given ‘breathing space’ to help them get back on their feet, and protect both children and families from the most harmful effects of debt.”