New study points to debt woes for more than 130,000 in city

Debt worries linked to spending from two years ago are blighting huge numbers of Leeds residents – who are today urged to seek help.

New research released by Sainsbury’s Bank shows that as 2019 gets under way, 17 per cent of people in Leeds still have debt from 2017.

According to the company, the top purchases paid for by residents are shopping (five per cent), a new car (four per cent) and holidays (three per cent).

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Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of Leeds residents have debt on two or more cards, the bank added.

Over a quarter (27 per cent) want to consolidate their debts – but only one per cent are planning to do so, the research found.

And although two fifths (42 per cent) had a budget in 2018, a quarter (26 per cent) stuck to them.

According to World Population Review, Leeds has a population of around 780,000, suggesting that more than 132,000 people are struggling with debt from two years ago.

Sue Anderson, media and PR manager at the Leeds-based StepChange debt charity, said: “Consistently, credit cards have been the most common source of debt amongst StepChange clients, and more than two thirds of new clients who contacted us between January and June 2018 had credit card debt. In addition, we have seen growing numbers of clients turning to credit for essentials such as household essentials, so it is no surprise that almost half of those surveyed have credit card debt from ‘everyday shopping.’

“We advise anyone who is struggling with their debts to contact a free, reputable debt advice charity such as ourselves.”

Nationally, more than a quarter (27 per cent) of people have debt remaining from two years ago, the study reports. And across the country, nearly half of card spending from last year contributing to 2019 balances were from everyday shopping (49 per cent).

Sainsbury’s Bank reached its study results through a research agency which surveyed a representative sample of Leeds to get the statistics.

The bank suggests that people who are worried make a list of all their debts – saying that understanding how much is owed in total is the best start to feeling in control of outstanding payments.