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The coronavirus crisis and the lockdown situation has pushed more than six million people in the UK behind on their household bills.
According to research by Citizens Advice, the crisis has had a huge impact on the financial wellbeing of many millions of Brits, with carers, key workers and people shielding from the virus among those being hardest hit.
In some parts of the UK, bans on evictions of renters and restrictions on debt collection activities are scheduled to come to an end soon, which campaigners have warned will add massively to the financial woes of people with problem debts.
Of the entire UK population, around one in nine are estimated to have fallen behind on their household bills as a result of coronavirus, which equates to around six million people.
However, these issues are more acute among people who have responsibilities as carers or as parents, where the proportion of people who’ve been pushed into arrears is as high as one in four.
Around one in five ‘shielders’ have also fallen behind with their bills recently and key workers have been badly hit as well.
Citizens Advice has said it fears many of the people who are being forced into debt during the virus crisis will struggle for a long time after to free themselves from the arrears they get in to.
The charity has said it wants to see government taking urgent action to provide financial support to the millions of people who’ve been plunged into debt in recent months.
“This is a crisis that nobody could have planned for financially and we hear daily from people how tough it’s been for them to deal with,” said Chris Whitehead, a debt advisor for Citizens Advice in Newcastle.
“But we fear the debt problems, which have been building up during lockdown, are now coming to bear as the schemes aimed at preserving jobs and incomes come to an end over the next few months.”
“As the government takes steps to try to kickstart the economy, it must not forget the millions who’ve fallen into debt because of a crisis no-one could have foreseen,” added Citizens Advice’s chief executive Dame Gillian Guy.
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