Client Report 2015:
An insight into debt and poverty and how our service is meeting the needs of the most vulnerable
This report brings together responses to our annual client survey from over 1,600 CAP Debt Help clients, along with other CAP data, to show the extent of debt, poverty and vulnerability amongst the clients we serve. Together our four services had a wide reaching impact in 2015, offering holistic support to tackle debt and its causes. As well as practical help, our services offer relief from the emotional strain of debt, unemployment and addiction.
Key findings from our 2015 client report:
More clients became debt free in 2015 than any previous year, with 93% of clients describing CAP’s Debt Help service as ‘life transforming’ or ‘a great help’.
This success, despite the vulnerability and low average income of our client base, is down to the face-to-face and holistic service we provide. Because of over 3,000 frontline volunteers and 27,000 individuals who support CAP financially, we are uniquely placed to lift those with the toughest lives out of debt and poverty.
6% increase in clients requiring an insolvency option to resolve their financial difficulty.
Half of new clients seeking help in 2015 chose to pursue an insolvency option, while just 36% were in a position to begin repaying their debts immediately. 7 in 10 of those pursing an insolvency route were eligible for a Debt Relief Order (DRO).
34% of clients reported that suffering with mental ill health was a contributing factor to their financial difficulty, and 9 in 10 of these clients rate CAP’s Debt Help service as ‘very easy’ or ‘easy’ to access.
As both a contributing factor and consequence of financial difficulty, mental ill health is widespread. Most commonly clients report suffering from depression and anxiety. 36% said they thought about or attempted suicide as a way out of debt before our help.
Average priority debt owed by new clients in 2015 when seeking help was 15% higher than in 2014.
On average new clients owed £13,973 in total when seeking help in 2015, with priority debts accounting for 31% of this. In 2014, priority debts accounted for a similar proportion, at 29% of total outstanding debt, but clients owed £587 less to priority creditors than in 2015.
32% of new clients in 2015 were in receipt of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and these clients were more severely over-indebted than new clients overall.
ESA claimants are overrepresented amongst our client base as just 7% of the UK working-age population is in receipt of the benefit. On average those receiving ESA would need 47 years to repay their debts without access to alternative debt solutions, 16 years more than the average for all clients.
87% of clients did not have any savings to fall back on when they entered financial difficulty.
As a result, 9 in 10 of clients report that they borrowed to try and keep up with existing debts, and 7 in 10 fell behind with at least one priority bill. Mostly clients borrowed from friends and family, with credit cards and overdrafts also common with four in ten also using them.