Women who are de­stroyed by debt

Health blow as 7 in 10 bor­row to fi­nance life­styles

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Jes­sica McKay j.mckay@dai­ly­mail.co.uk.

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

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