Thousands of Hartlepool families caught up in problem debt

Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture by FRANK REID
Christopher Akers-Belcher. Picture by FRANK REID

More than 3,500 children in Hartlepool are living in families trapped in debt crisis, according to figures released today.

The Children’s Society found that as many as one in 12 families in Hartlepool has what is defined as ‘problem debt’, which means they have fallen behind on the repayments of bills or credit commitments.

There are 2,200 families living with problem debt in the town, according to the statistics, which are based on a survey commissioned by the charity, with 3,700 children affected.

Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, says the authority is doing “everything possible” to help.

He said: “This latest report provides further evidence that the government’s Welfare Reform changes are continuing to place significant financial pressures on many Hartlepool families.

“As a council we are doing everything possible to support those affected and have provided support through our Local Council Tax Support scheme, help with housing costs with discretionary housing payments and initiatives such as free swims and holiday hunger to ease the pressure on hard-pressed families.

“We also provide funding to West View Advice & Resource Centre and provide a children’s hub from the Civic Centre. There is lots of help available and our advice is to seek advice early rather than let problems build up.”

A spokesman for Citizens Advice Hartlepool said: “The Children’s Society research largely correspondents with our own day to day experience.

“Debt within families can have a serious and adverse impact on children.

“However, advice and help is available from both the local Citizens Advice office and other services in the town. There are a number of options available for families in debt including debt relief orders, debt management plans and even personal bankruptcy.

“Our advice to families in debt, is to get advice as soon as possible as it can make a significant difference.

“We provide a comprehensive debt and money advice service.”