Landmark report: Households trapped under the rubble of debt and poverty

CAP client
Christians Against Poverty calls for more funding for free debt advice as demand is expected to rise further 

Christians Against Poverty calls for more funding for free debt advice as demand is expected to rise further.

Free UK debt advice charity, Christians Against Poverty’s (CAP) annual report is highlighting the impacts of poverty and how over two years of high costs is now crumbling the financial security of millions of households and leading them into debt.

CAP’s annual report is revealing that low income is the main contributor to debt:

  • Almost 3 in 5 of new clients in debt had income below the poverty line*

  • 60% of survey respondents had to borrow money to pay household bills

  • 1 in 7 skipped meals and 2 in 10 went without heating their home on a daily basis

  • Almost 3 in 5 borrowed money to pay for food, clothing & other living costs

CAP’s Chief Executive Officer Stewart McCulloch says, 

This report highlights how two years of high costs have left many low income households across the UK trapped under the rubble of debt and poverty. We expect this will lead to more local people needing free debt advice to get back on their feet. 

Imagine yourself struggling to find enough cash to buy a carton of milk. Shivering in an icy cold house. Your lights are off, curtains closed because you fear people knocking on your door demanding money you don’t have. You’re stuck in an endless cycle of borrowing to pay off another debt. 

This is what living in poverty looks like and this is the reality for many people living in your local community.

Many charities and hundreds of local churches, supported by thousands of kind individuals, are going above and beyond to clear the wreckage of debt and poverty.

Free debt advice is a vital service that millions of people need right now. At Christians Against Poverty, we helped 18% more people go debt free in 2023. We are aiming to scale up and double the amount of clients we help each month but we can only achieve that with more donations and funding. 

We need you to join us in this fight against UK poverty so that millions can look forward to a full and fulfilled life, rather than just scraping by.”

Hopelessness overwhelmed me, like I was stuck in a never ending cycle 

CAP client Toni 

Toni struggled with a range of health issues which contributed to her falling into debt:

I’ve been deaf since birth, have been diagnosed with a personality disorder, and following a road traffic accident a few years ago, I’ve struggled with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

I wasn’t able to work. The debts mounted because I couldn’t afford to cover the cost of everything. I’d be paying off an existing loan, then something would come up, like my children would need new school uniforms. The only way around it that I could see was to take out a bigger loan to pay off the first one and have a bit left over to buy the uniforms. It would get consistently more difficult and more expensive. 

Hopelessness overwhelmed me, like I was stuck in a never ending cycle.

Then Guy, a debt coach from the local Christians Against Poverty centre, came to visit me and he was absolutely fantastic from day one. It felt like a rock that had been pressing me down for years had been lifted off my back. I’m due to be debt free in 2024 and I can’t wait.”

How we can tackle poverty

  • You can play your part and help more people like Toni break free from the chains of debt and poverty by donating to CAP at:

  • CAP is encouraging businesses to pay the Real Living Wage.

  • We need the UK Government and politicians from all political parties to focus more on tackling poverty in local communities across the UK. They can do this by reviewing social security against the Minimum Income Standard and to make the legal minimum wage the same level as the Real Living Wage to ensure everyone has access to an income that covers their essential needs.

Notes to Editors

For more information or interview requests please contact CAP’s press office on 01274 760 801 or at [email protected].

*Poverty line is calculated as 60% of the UK median household income (after housing costs).

Christians Against Poverty: 

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity working with over 800 affiliated churches to deliver free debt help, budgeting guidance, support to find work, life skills groups and more. Visit to find out more.

CAP is committed to its services being accessible and inclusive. We support people from all faiths. We do not discriminate by age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.


The statistics in CAP’s Client Report are drawn from CAP’s Annual report and accounts and analysis of data from CAP’s debt help case management system for 2,367 UK-wide client households that had a Financial Statement activated for the first time in 2023 (including 180 in Scotland, 73 in Wales and 100 in Northern Ireland). Throughout the report, this data set is referred to as new clients’ or new client households’ as necessary. The word clients’ refers to those who used CAP’s debt help service.

Data has also been gathered from 505 responses to CAP’s annual debt help client survey, conducted online and by post between November and December 2023. This data set is referred to as survey respondents’ or CAP’s clients’ as necessary throughout the report.