The United Kingdom is facing a growing crisis as an estimated 700,000 households missed rent or mortgage payments in April, according to a recent report by consumer group Which? The alarming data highlights the financial difficulties many people are experiencing, with around 2.5% of households defaulting on a housing payment in the previous month. Among renters, the situation is even worse, with one in 20 (5.2%) missing a payment.
In a recent interview with LBC News, Matt Dronfield, Managing Director of Debt Free Advice, discussed the challenges faced by people in debt and the support available to them. Speaking to journalist Martin Stanford, Dronfield highlighted the alarming increase in inquiries received by Debt Free Advice. From January to April 2023, about 40% of clients had rent arrears, and the number of people needing access to food banks has doubled since October.
Dronfield stressed the importance of speaking to landlords or mortgage providers if individuals are struggling to keep up with payments. He also emphasised the free support available through Debt Free Advice, which has helped over 500,000 people manage their finances over the past 17 years. The organisation can negotiate on clients' behalf, providing vital assistance during these difficult times.
In addition to rent and mortgage arrears, many people are struggling to pay their energy bills. Debt Free Advice has seen a 47.4% increase in clients with gas arrears and a 44.4% increase in those with electricity arrears. Dronfield urged those with prepayment metres to claim unclaimed credit from their energy providers, with over £100 million available and a deadline of the end of June.
While there is no guarantee that accessing support will resolve all financial difficulties, Dronfield emphasised the importance of taking the first step to seek help. Debt Free Advice clients were £13 million in total better off in the last year as a result of accessing their free advice services.
Listen to the full interview with Matt Dronfield and Martin Stanford below.