Nearly nine million people in the UK are living with serious debt, according to a new study published by the Money Advice Service; however, five out of six of them are not currently seeking any help for their situation.
Of around 8.8 million seriously indebted individuals, only around 1.5 million are seeking assistance to resolve their predicament.
Yet this does not mean that people are managing to cope relatively easy with substantial debt levels; 48% of all debtors and 54% of indebted families are struggling to even buy the basics they need to survive.
Almost half of the 8.8 million in the most serious of debt situations have been finding it difficult to stay afloat for at least the past year.
Interestingly, while only 17% are seeking professional help, 83% are keen to clear their debts as soon as they can; 74% are unhappy because of their financial situation; and 56% said their debt struggles have impacted negatively upon their life.
Caroline Rookes, chief executive officer of the Money Advice Service, said: “This is the first time we’ve had such a detailed understanding of the complexity of [debtors’] lives.”
But she added that the “fundamental challenge” posed by the research is that “the majority of people with debt difficulties do not seek advice”.
Cities – particularly in the north – dominate the list of regional debt difficulties, with the East Midlands’ own Nottingham ranking among the five worst-hit areas.
Here, as well as in Hull, Liverpool, Manchester and Knowsley, more than 40% of people are living with debts they find it hard to service, highlighting the plight of people in urban areas.