Two debt charities have warned that the number of people seeking their help with rising debts has risen significantly.

o Citizens Advice report that the number of people wanting help with mortgage arrears rose by 35 per cent for January and February 2008 compared with the same period in 2007. And debt problems of all kinds account for nearly a third of all enquiries. Teresa Penchard, director of policy commented: “The combination of big increases in household bills, especially fuel, and rising housing costs is putting additional pressure on people’s finances when they are already stretched to the limit”.

o The Consumer Credit Counselling Service reports that more than a million people asked for help in 2007, a 19% increase on 2006. They warn that bankruptcy is likely to be the only option for a growing number of people.

Apparently it is not just the young on the first rung of the property ladder who are at risk. Help the Aged warn that more than 160,000 pensioners are using credit cards to pay for everyday necessities, such as milk, bread and vegetables. Dave Sinclair, head of policy points out: “Using credit cards to manage the day to day challenges of living – and then not paying off the full amount – is a real worry and is something that is definitely getting worse”.

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