half of households who are in debt are unable to regularly meet their weekly repayments, according to a Leeds-backed welfare reform study.
And the average amount owed has risen by more than 50 per cent in 18 months.
The findings are revealed in the sixth report from Real Life Reform – a major study by social landlords into the lives of up to 100 Northern households affected by welfare reforms.
Over 30 per cent of those who shared their experiences in the latest round of research live in the Leeds and Yorkshire.
Leeds & Yorkshire Housing Association (LYHA) and three other Leeds-based providers are among the landlords carrying out the study.
It reveals one in two in-debt households are unable to regularly meet their weekly repayments and average debt per household has increased from £2,288 to £3,554.
But the study shows that 64 per cent of households are now in debt compared with 74 per cent in the last reporter in October 2014.
Lisa Pickard, co-founder of the Real Life Reform steering group and chief executive of LYHA, said: “It is clear that the challenge of keeping their heads above water remains extremely difficult for many.
“While fewer households are in debt now compared to our last report in October, that reduction is due in part to the use of Debt Relief Orders. Is that really a good outcome? It might appear to address an immediate issue but it affects people’s credit ratings and can impact on their ability to open a bank account.
She added: “For those remaining in debt, average debts are significantly higher than at the start of the study and it is clear that people are finding it hard to make regular payments.
“Households in the study report constantly the struggle to juggle their money and tell us that they have no safety net to fall back on.”
The report also shows the lowest levels of employment since the study started, with 23.5 per cent of households having one or more people in work.