Women who are destroyed by debt
Health blow as 7 in 10 borrow to finance lifestyles
DEBT has ‘become a way of life’ for many young Scots women, a new study has warned.
More and more women are relying on credit to fund their lives and wrecking their mental and physical health in the process, the research said.
The Women and Debt report found that 70 per cent of young Scottish women use credit to fund their lifestyle and cover everyday costs.
Shockingly, one in ten of those surveyed reported owing more than £10,000, as factors such as becoming a mother and relationship breakdowns force them to borrow.
With just 36 per cent of girls receiving any financial education at school, charities are calling for this to be tackled to stop women falling into a terrifying debt spiral.
The Debt Advisory Centre study said that, on average, Scottish women now have £3,561 of unsecured debt, with the highest levels of debt among those under 45.
There has been a five-fold increase in the proportion of young females seeking help with debt in the last three years.
In January, 11 per cent of those who approached the Debt Advisory Centre for help were women aged 18 to 24, compared with 2 per cent in January 2013.
Women also owe increasingly large sums to creditors. Of those seeking advice in January, 80 per cent owed more than £5,000, compared to 76 per cent in the same period of 2013.
Credit cards are by far the most popular way for women to borrow, with 53 per cent of respondents saying they have at least one. Worryingly, around 10 per cent take cash advances on their credit cards when their regular income runs low. A further 14 per cent have a store card.
Debt is having an alarming knock-on effect on almost every aspect of young women’s lives.
Two-thirds of those polled and in debt said their physical and mental health had suffered because of debt-related stress.
Women also reported that their relationships with family and friends were suffering.
With the average woman’s salary standing at £27,000, the challenge of trying to make their i ncome stretch has meant around a third has fallen behind with payments on unsecured credit and household bills.
The biggest causes of arrears included failure to budget, ill health, becoming a mother and relationship breakdowns.
A Debt Advisory Centre spokesman said: ‘Debt has become a way of life for many women. They are more in control of their lives than they’ve ever been – they are typically financially independent for longer and earn more – but they are also borrowing more, either to fund a lifestyle or to keep a roof over their head.
‘ For a growing number of women who are using credit to fund their lives, making debt repayments has become unmanageable.’ He added: ‘Just as children are taught about healthy eating and how to be good citi- zens in school, there’s a need to make financial education an important part of the curriculum in primary schools.’
Fraser Sutherland, a spokesman for charity Citizens Advice Scotland, said: ‘These are disturbing trends, but they are certainly in line with those we see in Scottish CAB cases every week.’
He added: ‘Our advice to anyone who is struggling with debt is that they can get free, confidential advice from the CAB.’ Guy Rigden, of MyBnk, a charity delivering financial education to youngsters, said: ‘The UK has a worrying gender deficit when it comes to the causes and consequences of debt.
‘Prevention’s always cheaper than the cure and we’re calling on the education departments of all home nations to back what works in our classrooms to help dodge debt and level the playing field.’
Paying the price: Debt is said to have become a ‘way of life’ for many young women