MORE than a third of families in Flintshire are trapped by debt, a new study suggests.
Research by The Children’s Society and debt charity StepChange has identified that 33 per cent of families across the county are currently living with what it describes as “problem debt”.
The study found that 6,279 families across the Alyn and Deeside and Delyn areas are failing to keep up with household bills and loan repayments.
As a result, the total debt owed by families across Flintshire amounts to £12,920,961, with 10,808 children living in problem debt, the study found.
In Wrexham, 23 per cent of families struggle with problem debt, amounting to 2,035 families.
The amount owed by Wrexham families totals £4,188,362, 3,503 children exposed to problem debt.
A family with problem debt is one which has fallen behind on the repayments of bills or credit commitments. Families with debt, but where they are keeping up with payments, were not included in the figures.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Families in Wales are increasingly relying on debt as a way to make ends meet – but we’re in danger of ignoring the impact this is having on children now and in the future.
“We cannot allow children to pay the price of debt.
“With little savings to fall back on, it can take just one unexpected setback - like illness or being made redundant - to tip a family over the edge and into a debt trap that can feel impossible to escape from.”
The Flintshire figures are among the highest across the 40 parliamentary constituencies in Wales, with only the Vale of Clwyd recording a higher figure for the percentage of families living with problem debt.
The national average indicates 23 per cent of families are affected by problem debt across Wales, with the average included in the study family behind on payments by £2,058.
StepChange chief executive Mike O’Connor, said: “This research is a stark warning to policymakers, creditors and the wider society of the devastating effects of debt on children.
“Families face a unique set of pressures, but the sad reality is that for many parents credit which is often unsustainable has become the only way to cover their essential household bills.”