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Squeezed households still struggling

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Households are ‘swimming against a tide' of falling real incomes and the high cost of living, according to debt charity.

The Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) Statistical Yearbook has analysed the 370,000 people who contacted the CCCS for help in 2011. The report highlights specific concerns over youth unemployment, the worsening financial position of renters and debt problems increasingly being carried into later life.

On average, clients owed £20,023 in unsecured debt (down from £22,476 in 2010) and had monthly living costs of £1,369 (down from £1,410 in 2010). But despite cutting down on spending, stagnating incomes meant debtors had no more money available to repay their debts. The average client in 2011 had just £44 left over after meeting their basic living costs each month (barely unchanged from £43 in 2010).

The charity highlighted youth unemployment as a key concern, with 42% of CCCS clients under the age of 25 out of work (compared with 27% of all clients).

It also said renters have been affected most severely by the economic downturn. The number of people contacting the CCCS living in rented accommodation increased to 55% in 2011 (up from 51% in 2009).

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