TENS of thousands of children in the North-East and Yorkshire are living in families trapped by debt who could be missing out on essentials, a study has revealed.
Research by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity has found 45,000 families in the North-East – 14 per cent of the total- are behind with bills and loan repayments by an average of £1,669.
This means an estimated 75,000 youngsters in the region are living in households with debt problems.
In Yorkshire, 132,922 families – some 20 per cent of the total- are suffering similar financial problems, with average arrears of £4,229 and an estimated 231,000 children affected.
Across both regions, a total of £634.2m is owed in bills and loans.
In their report, The Debt Trap: Exposing the impact of problem debt on children, the charities reveal how debt puts stress on relationships, traps families in a downward spiral of borrowing and can cause children to suffer from anxiety, experience bullying and miss out on essentials.
The Scarborough and Whitby, Thirsk and Malton and Richmond parliamentary constituencies in North Yorkshire are among the worst affected, with 43 per cent, 22 per cent and 21 per cent of children living in families trapped in debt, respectively
Skipton and Ripon in North Yorkshire, North Durham and Bishop Auckland are close behind, at 20, per cent, 18 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said it could take just a small set back, such as illness of redundancy, to tip a family over the edge.
“This research exposes the shocking reality of parents lying awake at night worrying and unhappy children going without,” he said.
“Many families are feeling the squeeze and parents struggling on low wages are battling just to pay the bills.”
The study follows the launch of The Debt Trap, a campaign to highlight the impact of debt on children.
StepChange Debt Charity and The Children’s Society are calling on the Government to create a “breathing space” scheme to give struggling charities an extended period of protection for further charges and enforcement action.
They are also demanding tighter restrictions on advertising loans, earlier and wider access to debt support and a review of whether the protection systems already in place are working.
For more information, visit stepchange.org or childrenssociety.org.uk