Families across Leeds and Yorkshire affected by major changes to the benefits system are grappling with rising debts and turning to pay-day lenders and loan sharks, a study reveals today.
Almost a quarter of the social housing tenants surveyed for Real Life Reform, who are in debt, have borrowed from an illegal lender or pay-day loan provider.
Three out of 10 households are spending less than £20 a week on food and 12.5 per cent of those interviewed have used a food bank at least once in the previous three months.
The findings are revealed in the latest Real Life Reform – a major study by social landlords into the impact of Government welfare reforms on up to 100 households in the North, including Leeds and Yorkshire Housing Association (LYHA) and three other Leeds-based providers. Almost 35 per cent of those taking part in the study live within Leeds and Yorkshire.
Interviews conducted in April and May with 80 tenants in total revealed that 24 per cent of people in debt owe money to a pay-day lender or loan shark. It found 43.5 per centof people in debt will take more than four years to repay them or don’t know when the loans will be paid off. The percentage of in-debt households owing more than £2,000 has risen to 52.8 per cent from 44 per cent since March.
The average weekly debt repayments have more than doubled. Nine months ago they were £18.21. They now total £37.36 a week. Another three out of 10 households spend less than £20 per week on food.