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Christian debt charity says 1 in 4 people in debt were born into money struggles

by Cara Bentley

A report by Christians Against Poverty (CAP), called Changing Perceptions, looked at the debt charity's clients' experiences and showed how parents' financial circumstances affects their childrens' future relationship with money.

Just over a quarter (27 per cent) of CAP's clients grew up in a household affected by debt and 58 per cent are over 40 years old.

The annual report says money worries are an intergenerational anxiety: "The impact debt has on these children is far reaching, from taking a toll on their emotional wellbeing, to parents being unable to provide adequate food or clothing and feeling that their debt was affecting their children's future life chances. Where parents are struggling to provide for their children, feelings of guilt and shame are particularly acute. Seven in ten (69%) CAP clients with children said being in debt made them feel like a bad parent."

Rachel Gregory, CAP's social policy manager, told Premier Christian Radio's News Hour: "Anecdotally, we'd heard clients telling us about this experience. For example, one lady shared with me once how her earliest memory was hiding behind the sofa from the enforcement agents knocking at the door. So, we definitely knew that there was a cycle here but actually to see the figures around the extent and how often that happens I think is surprising."

She added that about 80 per cent of those seeking help with the charity said they had seen debt negatively affect their children.

Chief Executive Matt Barlow said: "When you've grown up with debt as the backdrop, it takes a huge leap of imagination to believe that life can be different. There's also no one to show you the right way to prioritise, plan ahead or even talk about finances."

Low income is the most common reason for personal debt despite around half of those in debt being from working households.

The average household annual income is £12,361 and a third of those being helped are living on less than £10,000 per household, per year.

Council tax is the main priority debt owed by CAP clients with 43 per cent owing their local authority compared with 39 per cent in the year before.

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