Millions are living on the edge, charity says

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Around 15 million people are “living on the edge” despite the improving economy, a report by a debt charity has warned.

Stepchange said that these people are either falling behind on bills or are trying to plug gaps in their income by using credit to pay for essential outgoings.

It said that as a result of the high reliance on credit to get by, many people “lack resilience” when it comes to coping with financial shocks - such as a change to their employment situation or the possibility of interest rates rising.

Some 13 million people would not have enough savings to last a month if their income dropped by a quarter, the charity estimates.

From its findings, it believes that almost three million people are in such a spiral of debt that they are borrowing money just to keep up with their existing credit commitments.

The charity said that credit has become “a distress safety net” for people who fall on hard times.

It said that just one in 10 people believes that relying on welfare would be sufficient to cover essential costs.

The charity said that despite the improving economy, it is still dealing with cries for help from more than 1,000 people every day who are struggling with their finances. It wants to see a senior government minister taking charge of a national debt strategy.

The report, titled Life On The Edge, based its findings on a survey of more than 4,000 people.

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