When the poorest cry out, is anyone listening?
Our latest research shows the shocking revelation that one in ten of our clients has no bed or mattress to sleep on. If this is the picture of problem debt now, what does a post pandemic UK look like?
This is the question we must ask following on from the Client report we’ve just published exploring the latest debt trends, as well as the difference CAP’s services made in 2019. The report is a cornerstone piece of research that our External Affairs team use to show industry and government the picture of poverty in the UK.
It’s a harsh reminder of the level of debt and poverty many of our clients are facing every day. The average income for new client households in 2019, after housing costs, was £12,579, meaning that 81% of CAP clients have an income lower than the national average, and almost half (48%) are living below the poverty line.
This level of low income meant that two thirds of CAP clients borrowed money in order to pay another bill or debt, and six in ten borrowed money in order to pay for food, clothes or other essentials. Living in debt also impacts health. Three in four of the people we help said debt negatively affected their health, with many seeking help from a GP for a debt related illness.
In light of the pandemic
Covid-19 (coronavirus) is being felt by everyone but the poorest are least able to weather the storm. As the global economy is set to suffer for years to come, household debts will continue to grow and we’re expecting to get even busier.
The hard-hitting picture painted by this report - which uses 2019 data - makes us very concerned for the future.
The good news
But let’s talk about some good news in all of this. In 2019, CAP helped 22,778 people to change their story. We celebrated with more than 2,000 households who became debt free, and walked many more along the road to a more hopeful and positive future.
We are so thankful to all of you who donated to our crisis appeal. Your donations mean that we can continue to run our emergency support line, which is providing hundreds of households with vital emergency food shops, fuel vouchers and phone top-ups.
Sarah Elson, who works in CAP’s Network Management team, is coordinating our response.
‘CAP has always operated an emergency aid fund for debt clients who are in desperate need of support with food and energy top-ups. However, now due to the coronavirus pandemic we are seeing clients being pushed harder than ever into difficult circumstances. This includes things like changes to employment, reduced working hours, people waiting for benefits or an increase in mental health difficulties.
When lockdown began, CAP decided to offer support to a wider range of people and develop what it was supporting people with. The emergency aid line now helps by providing food shops, fuel vouchers and phone top-ups. By having three different options for aid, we've been able to address material needs for food and power, as well as allowing people to stay connected to family and vital support services.
Our partner churches have stepped up to meet the needs of their communities in so many ways. In the last four weeks, CAP has been able to support them by providing aid for more than 150 CAP clients. This support helps frontline staff to build relationships with their clients and group services members, and provides a lifeline for many during an especially difficult and uncertain time.’
We cannot take our foot off the pedal right now.
The financial impacts of coronavirus are going to be long lasting and, for thousands, this pandemic will be the tipping point into financial crisis. We need to respond now to make sure CAP can be there for them when they call us.
Will you give today and bring hope to someone plunged into financial darkness by the coronavirus pandemic?