Young people in the North East have some of the highest debt levels in the country - owing an average of £8,000.
New figures from free debt advice provider PayPlan show that while calls to its helpline from every other age group have decreased over the past five years, calls from 18-25 year-olds have more than doubled, with an increase of 117%.
The statistics, which do not include student loans, show that young people in the North East who sought advice had amassed average debts of £8,303.99 each.
The top three causes are general overspending through taking on too much credit, reduced income, and ‘hardship’, which might include those who are temporarily homeless, single parents or recipients of benefits.
Young people in Wales were found to have the highest debt levels, with an average of £9,263.63. The lowest average is in Northern Ireland, with average debts of £6,485.11 per person.
The average debt figures for 18-25 year olds around the UK paint a bleak picture:
1. Wales – £9,263.63.
2. South East – £9,045.48.
3. North East – £8,303.99.
4. Yorkshire & Humberside – £7,836.87.
5. North West – £7,771.34.
6. South West – £7,603.58.
7. East of England – £7,478.39.
8. Scotland – £7,359.78.
9. West Midlands – £7,080.97.
10. East Midlands – £6,921.30.
11. London – £6,855.61.
12. Channel Islands – £6,564.42.
13. Northern Island – £6,485.11.
Jane Clack, money advisor at PayPlan, said: “We’re seeing an increasing number of young people starting their adult lives in debt.
"It’s a situation that’s getting worse and our concern is that these figures are likely to increase, as they get older.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the National Living Wage at £7.20 per hour making a big difference, but that’s for people over 25.
"The minimum wage for 21-24 year-olds is £6.70 per hour, whilst for 18-20 year-olds it’s £5.30 per hour.
“In a way, this age group is becoming the forgotten generation when it comes to debt.
"It’s almost expected that young people will rack up a bit of debt whilst studying and enjoying themselves, but remember our figures exclude debt associated with the student loans company.”
Mandy Rutter, psychologist and counsellor at employee assistance and wellbeing provider Validium, says the problem could stem from a lack of financial education and lessons on handling money.
"It is now easier to spend than ever with contactless payments almost everywhere, including bars and nightclubs.
"Young people rarely visit a branch of their bank, so hardly ever speak to a financial advisor.
"As money becomes less tangible, people simply can’t see their problems until it is too late and they face real trouble.”
For more information on PayPlan, which can help manage your debts, call 0207 760 8976 or visit www.payplan.com.