More than 6,000 Sunderland families trapped in debt crisis

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More than 6,000 families in Sunderland are trapped in debt crisis, according to figures released today.

Charity The Children’s Society found that as many as one in 12 families in the city has what is defined as ‘problem debt’, which means they have fallen behind on the repayments of bills or credit commitments.

There are 6,400 families living with problem debt in Sunderland, say the statistics, which are based on a survey commissioned by the charity, with 10,800 children affected.

Coun Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services at Sunderland City Council, said: “The increasing financial pressures on all families, especially those with children, is a national issue which we work hard with partner agencies in Sunderland to address at a local, community level.

“We provide what levels of help and advice we can with the limited resources we have available, for all those families at risk of falling into debt.

“This includes provision of benefits and debt advice across the city as well as working with a range of partners to promote financial inclusion, digital inclusion and supporting initiatives to reduce both food and fuel poverty.

“Groups like The Children’s Society have a vital role to play in raising public awareness of the economic difficulties facing families here and across the country, and we will take the findings of their latest research very seriously indeed.”

Denise Irving, bureau manager of Citizens Advice Sunderland, has urged anyone struggling with debt to seek their advice.

She said: “Debt is a huge problem locally and, every day, we deal with families struggling financially.

“Usually, they are finding it hard to make ends meet, heat their homes and keep a roof over their heads.

“It puts a huge strain on family relationships and the effects on day-to-day family life can be devastating.

“We would urge anyone who is struggling with debt to pop in and see one of our specialist money advisers, who can carry out a benefit check and ensure they’re claiming everything they’re entitled to.

“We can then help them to draw up a manageable financial budget and support them in negotiating with their creditors.

“All of our services are free, impartial and confidential and we have appointments available immediately.

“We offer face-to-face appointments in the city centre, Southwick and Washington.

“You can make an appointment by calling us on 0191 416 6848 or by calling into our drop in service which is upstairs the Galleries Shopping Centre, Washington.”