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Huge rise in extreme debtors

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The number of people who have run up debts of over £100,000 has risen sharply. Paula John reports

According to the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), 2.7% of those who looked to it for help and advice in 2005 owed more than £100,000 on top of any mortgage debt.

The figure may not look huge but is a substantial increase on the 1.4% of advice-seekers in 2005 who reported this level of debt.

The CCCS added that the incidence of young people struggling with unsecured or non-mortgage debt have also increased dramatically

The proportion of consumers aged between 18 and 24 turning to the service had risen from 6% during the early part of the decade to 11% by the end of 2005.

The amount of debt incurred by younger people leapt by 26% in two years from an average of £11,934 in 2003 to £15,079 in 2005.

However, the CCCS said debt levels were rising the most quickly among people approaching retirement and those already retired.

The amount of money owed by people aged 60+, who had contacted the group for help, has soared 25% during 2005 alone to average £33,568.

People aged between 40 and 59 still had the highest level of outstanding debt at an average of £34,456, and the number of people in this age group contacting the group for help was also increasing at a faster rate than for any other group.

Malcolm Hurlston, founder of the service, said: “The aim of this yearbook is to make use of the knowledge and experience of CCCS in improving our understanding of people in debt, alleviating their problems and anticipating future needs.”

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