SOCIAL housing tenants across Leeds are slipping further into debt as the effects of welfare reform and the downturn continue to bite, a new study reveals.
The stark findings are revealed in a new report from Real Life Reform, a major study by social landlords, including Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association (LYHA) and three other Leeds-based providers.
The investigation found scores of families surveyed have an average of just £3 left every day for food, after all bills are paid. Households owe almost £3,000 on average - but have no chance of paying it off.
The study found 77 per cent of households are in debt and the average owed is up 28 per cent from last year. Average weekly debt repayments were also up 58 per cent as more and more people borrow to survive. Almost one in every five pounds is spent on fuel costs, four times the national average, the research found.
Lisa Pickard, chief executive of LYHA and a member of the Real Life Reform steering group, said: “Householders are falling into more debt, including some taking money from loan sharks, and it’s a real concern that people are having to borrow to cope with the cost of everyday living.
“In our first report in September, people said they’d resist falling further into debt, yet just six months later this picture has emerged. Nearly eight out of 10 people in the study owe money.
“With an underlying average debt of £2,943, some may never pay this off given that they have, on average, as little as £3 left at the end of each day for food.
“Support is needed to give people the confidence, skills and help they need to secure work and overcome some very real barriers.”
The next round of interviews with Real Life Reform case studies will be taking place in April and the study’s second report is expected to be published in July.