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London in red: High number of charity’s clients in Bromley are in problem debt

PUBLISHED: 07:00 06 September 2018

Phil Andrew, chief executive at StepChange. Pic: StepChange Debt Charity

Phil Andrew, chief executive at StepChange. Pic: StepChange Debt Charity

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A high proportion of clients from Bromley at a debt charity are in problem debt according to a new report.

Londoners are more likely to be struggling with debt than the rest of the UK, despite average higher incomes.

StepChange Debt Charity revealed that 100,000 people from London sought their debt advice, meaning that one in six of their clients last year came from the capital city.

The report is based on an analysis of more than 13,100 of the charity’s telephone clients and it shows that debt is a widespread problem across the capital.

Last year, 28,926 of StepChange’s clients from Bromley were in problem debt, which the charity estimates costs the economy around £76 million.

The borough had a high porportion of clients in rent arrears with people owing on average £1,694 in comparison to the London average of £1,406, but Bromley also has the lowest proportion of clients renting from the council.

Phil Andrew, chief executive of StepChange Debt Charity said: “Despite earning more on average than the rest of the country, Londoners have to fork out more to cover essential costs, pushing over half a million people living in the capital into problem debt.

“We found that higher housing costs are responsible for leaving Londoners with less money in their pockets after paying for household bills.”

StepChange is calling for earlier signposting and improved access to free regulated debt advice.

The charity also recommends more co-ordination across councils to promote the best practice council tax collection procedures, and for housing associations and private sector landlords to identify tenants in financial difficulty.

“As around one in six of our clients come from London, we call on the Mayor of London to work with local authorities and debt advice providers to ensure debt advice is sufficiently and efficiently resourced, as getting help as soon as possible and tackling the problems early on are key to financial recovery.

“Boroughs and councils need to implement fair debt collection processes so that people in financial difficulty are able to make affordable repayments that don’t make their existing problems worse.”

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