Divorce and relationship breakdown is leading 25 people to seek help with unmanageable debt each day, according to new figures from debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS).
A total of 9,099 people counselled by CCCS during 2011 cited divorce or separation as the main cause of their debt problem, with women outnumbering men two-to-one. Relationship breakdown costs the UK an estimated £44bn a year and divorce and separation ranks as the fourth largest cause of problem debt among CCCS clients, behind unemployment, reduced income and budgeting problems, with two thirds of those affected being women.
CCCS clients attributing their debt problem to relationship breakdown owed an average of £17,629 in unsecured debt, and had just £25 each month available to meet debt repayments after meeting their basic living expenses – a worse financial position than clients in general, who had an average monthly surplus of £40.
Ruth Sutherland, CEO of Relate, the UK’s largest provider of relationship counselling, said: “The emotional and financial cost of break-up has a devastating effect on families and nationally relationship breakdown costs the UK an estimated £44 billion a year so it is important to get help to people before their relationships break down.
“Relate counsellors are witnessing the huge strain that money worries place on people’s abilities to be good partners, parents and employees. We must act now so we don’t pass this emotional and financial cost onto future generations.”
Delroy Corinaldi, CCCS director of external affairs, said: “Separating from your partner is one of those life events that can cause a significant shock to your income. This often comes at the same time as significant additional costs, such as legal bills and the cost of moving home. The combination of these two factors can quickly lead to a serious debt problem.
“It is crucial that lenders act in an understanding and fair way towards borrowers going through this experience, and show as much forbearance as possible as they deal with the financial aftermath of separation.
“Separation is stressful enough without having to worry about dealing with unmanageable debt. Borrowers should take immediate steps to assess which, if any, joint debts they are liable for and talk to their lenders to explain their situation. Debt charities such as CCCS can take much of the stress out of the situation by helping borrowers to navigate these choppy waters, and can deal directly with creditors to help deal with the beginnings of problem debt.”