Record Numbers Seek Debt Help With U.K. on Brink of Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- A record of number of Britons sought debt advice in the first half of 2019, and charities are warning that households are vulnerable to any future economic turbulence.

More than 331,000 people contacted StepChange wanting help, the charity said in a report published Wednesday. Among the almost 200,000 who received full advice, the average level of unsecured debt was 13,799 pounds ($17,100), a 6% increase from 2016.

The figures almost certainly reflect years of government spending cuts, the inflationary squeeze on incomes that followed the 2016 Brexit vote and access to easy credit.

While wages are now recovering, households face an uncertain economic future, with Britain and the European Union seemingly no closer to agreeing a deal weeks before the Brexit deadline. A chaotic departure from the bloc could tip the economy into a deep recession and drive up food and fuel prices.

“Any future economic turbulence or sharp rises in the cost of living could spell disaster for those already living on a knife edge,” StepChange said.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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