Stevenage Citizens’ Advice sees significant increase in people unable to pay rent or council tax

Daniel Marshall, chief executive of Citizens' Advice in Stevenage, says the seriousness of debt in t

Daniel Marshall, chief executive of Citizens' Advice in Stevenage, says the seriousness of debt in the town is an increasing problem. - Credit: Archant

Many people in Stevenage are living with mounting debts and are increasingly unable to pay rents and council tax payments, it has emerged.

The growing problem has been highlighted by Stevenage Citizens Advice which says the debts run up by clients who seek its help average £10,300.

The organisation, based in Swingate House, helped people in the town write off more than £146,000 in unpaid debts last year through bankruptcies and debt relied orders.

A report produced by the Stevenage branch of CA – which offers advice to people on legal and financial matters – says debt is rocketing in the town.

The report states: “Significant increases in debt continue to pose a problem and this has led to a huge increase in those applying for debt relief orders and bankruptcies.


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“There is real concern over the type of debt which is increasing as well.

“Rent arrears and council tax debts are on the up, and these ‘priority’ debts have serious ramifications.

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“This is a trend we would currently highlight as being one of the most worrying.”

Daniel Marshall, chief executive of the charitable organisation, said: “Debt has always been a problem, but it’s getting worse and we have seen a dramatic shift over the last six to nine months.

“The nature of the debt is getting worryingly worse because its council tax and rent arrears, rather than credit card debts.

“It is difficult to pinpoint why this might be occurring, but welfare reform is likely to be a factor, as is the cost of living relative to the income of our clients. Last year around 30 per cent of our clients had an income of less than £400 a month.”

Daniel added: “We almost doubled our opening hours about two years ago and now we are undoubtedly at capacity. Any more clients and we will be struggling.

“Trying to get through on the phone is a problem now, so we will need to look at that.

“Although we are trying to help more people, it’s hard to do anything further.”

For more about Stevenage Citizens Advice, which is located at Swingate House in Danestrete, visit www.stevenagecab.org.uk.

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