A new report has highlighted the number of households struggling to cope financially which is “an alarming cause for concern” according to Assembly Member, Eluned Morgan.

In its report, ‘Wales in the Red’, debt charity StepChange has revealed that nearly a quarter of Welsh adults, that’s 605,000 people, are showing at least one sign of financial distress; with women, younger adults and single parents disproportionately affected.

In discussing the report with StepChange Chief Executive Phil Andrew, Eluned Morgan heard about the financial issues facing residents in Carmarthenshire.

Eluned Morgan AM said: “StepChange’s Wales in the Red report is an alarming cause for concern and highlights the increasingly difficult financial position of households across the county.

“Reflecting on the contents of this report, and in evaluating the help I provide constituents through my office, it is clear that changes to the social security system and the rising cost of living are significant factors in this worsening of peoples financial situations. In some cases, even after financial advice, household outgoings are still greater than the income families are able to earn.”

The report shows that the average level of unsecured personal debt was £10,415 with the main cause of debt being reduced income, a loss of earnings due to injury or illness, unemployment and family breakdown. 51% of those surveyed said that they were falling into arrears on household bills.

Eluned Morgan AM continued: “There is still great uncertainly over the impact of Brexit and the impact of leaving the EU to our personal finances. Reports suggest that we’ll all be worse off financially, particularly as a result of a bad deal.

“StepChange provides an important service, but often is responding to those already in debt. I will continue to work to get the help necessary to help people in Carmarthenshire avoid debt in the first place.

Phil Andrew, Chief Executive of StepChange Debt Charity, said: “This report sends a clear message to policymakers both in Wales and in UK central government: the time to act on problem debt is now. Many of our clients have already reached breaking point, but many more households across Wales are vulnerable to any future economic uncertainty. If they are to keep their heads above water, we need to see provisions put in place for those struggling with debt, so they get the help and protection they need to recover.

“More positively, we are delighted that the new statutory breathing space and debt repayment plan schemes will be available for people in Wales when they come into force. The challenge to the Welsh Government is now to get implementation over the line as quickly as possible.”

Advice on how to manage your debt and support for developing a financial plan is available free from StepChange at their official website or by calling them directly. For more information visit stepchange.org or call 0800 138 1111.