Couples ‘pushed to breaking point’ by debt, says charity

23 April 2008

by Bill Bowder

EVIDENCE of the destructive effect of debt on couples was released by Christians Against Poverty (CAP), a national charity, on Wednesday. In a postal survey of its clients drawn from across the UK, it found that nearly a quarter of the respondents’ relationships were in difficulty because of debt.

CAP, and Stewardship, a Christian charity that provides financial support-services, said this week that personal debt in the UK was at an all-time high of £1.4 trillion, and was increasing by £1 million every five minutes.

Jonathan Priestley, a spokesman for CAP, said on Tuesday that the figures had been gathered from its 72 centres across the country.

“We posted the question to people who had been working with us over the past year. Out of the 288 who responded, aged from 18 to 80, 210 said they were in some kind of a relationship, either married or cohabiting, and, of those, 23 per cent said that debt had caused their relationship to break down,” he said.

The survey also found that 67 per cent of the total sample said they had missed meals to make debt repayments, and 22 per cent said that they did this regularly.

For some, the stress caused by debt meant that they had visited their doctor and had been put on medication.

The UK chief executive of CAP, Matt Barlow, said that the findings were shocking. There was “strong evidence that families and couples across the UK are being pushed to breaking point and beyond, with many not eating properly, taking medication, and splitting up as they can no longer cope.”

He said the “holistic” approach provided by CAP gave people hope, “by providing sustainable and practical solutions to enable them to become debt-free in five years”. CAP, now ten years old, works in partnership with churches.

Stewardship said this week that 500 churches had signed up to its new Red2Black campaign, which aimed to encourage people to tackle debt issues in their community.

Steve Pierce, the head of Stewardship Money, said the charity wanted to help its neighbours in debt. “Jesus had more to say about money and possessions than almost any other subject. Red2Black is about reconnecting the church to these issues,” he said.

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