Croydon tops debt-worry list

Croydon has been named as the British district where people are most worried about debt, struggling to pay off loans and mortgages.

A postcode analysis by debt management firm Payplan also shows high levels of concern in Coventry, Northampton and Nottinghamshire. But it's Belfast and Haringay in North London that have the highest levels of unsecured debt, the figures reveal.

"Right now we are being told that the economy is 'out of intensive care', but there are still a few years ahead where people will continue to struggle financially," says Payplan director Jason Eaves. "Currently there are 2.5 million unemployed and many others who have had to take jobs that pay less than their previous roles."

The average debt level of people contacting the company is £83,465, and in some months it's received over 10,000 calls. And whereas the company's clients used generally to be people on low incomes and in rented accommodation, it's now hearing from an increasing number of homeowners.

"Many families have seen their budgets squeezed. Some parts of the country are in recovery while other parts are still in decline; but even in more affluent areas if wage increases have not matched the rising cost of living then debt is still a problem," says Eaves.

Indeed, the top ten includes some comparatively affluent areas, such as Brighton and Hove - as well as Margaret Thatcher's birthplace, Grantham in Lincolnshire.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predicted earlier this year that total household debt will reach £1.931 trillion by the beginning of 2018. It's currently £1.425 trillion, according to financial education charity Credit Action - nearly as much as the entire country produced during the whole of 2012.

Although there are signs that the economy is starting to improve, many households are still struggling to deal with stagnating or falling income combined with rising household bills. Nearly 1,300 people were made redundant every day between March and May, and somebody is declared insolvent or bankrupt every five minutes.

"Many people are struggling to make ends meet, so if mortgage rates rise and gas and electricity prices increase it will push many more people into problem debt," says Eaves. "The issue is to get people to seek help and not take out more debt as, over time, this only makes matters worse."

Top postcodes seeking help

CR0 Croyden 144 calls
CV6 Coventry 95
NG127 Nottingham 80
TA6 Taunton 77
BN2 Brighton and Hove 70
CV10 Nuneaton 70
PL5 Plymouth 70
LE3 Leicester 69
ST6 Stoke-on-Trent 69
NG31 Grantham 68

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