Money Wellness
Illustrated image of a man carrying a heavy red weight that says 'debt'. 15% of the UK population requires debt help. Free debt help
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calendar icon11 Mar 2024

15% of UK population needs debt advice

15% of the UK adult population – around 8.1 million people - needed debt advice last year according to a survey by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).

MaPS’ annual Debt Needs Survey also revealed that a further 24% - 12.6 million people – are considered ‘at-risk’. These people are struggling to keep up with bills and credit commitments or are running short of money for essentials and using high-cost credit instead.

Those taking part in the survey were asked about their financial resilience and how they would cope with unexpected expenses.

46% of those who needed debt advice said they would not be able to pay an unexpected bill over £100. This fell to 35% for those at-risk and to just 22% of the overall UK population.

While 28% of the UK population said they could not cover living expenses for more than a month, rising to 43% for those at-risk and to 61% for those who need debt advice.

Additionally, 57% of those at risk said that bills landed before they could pay them – increasing to 84% for those who need help.

And while the at-risk group are just about managing, a life event could easily tip them over into financial difficulty. This has already happened to some people within this group, with 21% saying they’d faced money worries due to health problems, 19% because of a large unplanned expense and 13% due to a drop in earnings.  

MaPS used the survey to better understand how recent mortgage rate rises have impacted people.

It revealed that 35% of the at-risk group have a mortgage, which means they will have some exposure to changes in interest rates now or in the future. Most (20%) are on a fixed rate mortgage with an interest rate of 1-4% and only a few (2%) had a fixed rate term ending in 2023.

7% of those surveyed in the at-risk group were on variable rate mortgages and have been exposed to interest rate rises, and 4% are tied into fixed rates of 5% or more.

Homeowners have varying levels of confidence about the future and the ability to keep up with payments. Only half (50%) gave themselves a score of between eight and ten – with 10 meaning they are very confident about not falling behind. This was lower for the at-risk group (36%) and those who need advice (28%).

The survey also noted that more homeowners and households with higher incomes are needing to seek debt advice – something that hasn’t happened in the past.

Where can I get debt help?

If you’re struggling to repay debt or make ends meet, don’t worry – you’re not alone.

We provide free debt help to around 1,000 people a day. We can work with you to find the right solution for you depending on your individual circumstances.

We can also help:

  • If you’ve been contacted by bailiffs
  • If you’ve received a court summons
  • By arranging breathing space
  • Check to see if you’re eligible for more financial support with our benefit calculator


Avatar of Caroline Chell

Caroline Chell

Caroline has worked in financial communications for more than 10 years, writing content on subjects such as pensions, mortgages, loans and credit cards, as well as stockbroking and investment advice.

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