Debt charity Stepchange has called on the government to boost support for vulnerable households ahead of the Autumn statement as the cost of living crisis continues to crimp people’s budgets.
Peter Tutton, the head of policy research and public affairs at Stepchange, said that local support funds need be protected in the upcoming statement to stop more people falling deeper into debt.
“The household support fund, which is a localised discretionary pot that people can access for help from local government… will that be maintained after next April? We hope so, but it probably needs to be better funded,” he told the Following the Rules podcast.
“The fiscal pressures on government don’t mean that there’s nothing that can be done to reduce the pressures on households,” he added.
Tutton said many poorer households are being forced to take on more debt to cover paying bills and rent, claiming that about half of all renters are using credit cards to keep up with rent.
Tutton said there were some “real concerns” that current local support funds are not preventing people from falling into debt.
“We have spoken to policy makers about a bunch of these things,” he said. “It’s difficult politically. It will be difficult for the foreseeable future.”
“If you’re thinking short term now about, well, we can’t afford the support, but then the long term cost in terms of if rents go up and more people can’t afford it, those long term costs will come and bite us in the end. So that’s the dilemma policymakers are in. The least we can ask is that they think about both sides of that equation,” he said.
The government did not immediately respond to City A.M. for comment.