Problem debt ruins lives.
Yet thousands of people today remain caught in its grip. More than 8 million people in the UK are estimated to be ‘over-indebted’, defined by the Money Advice Service as missing either debt repayments or domestic bills in any three of the past six months. Some 3.3 million people are estimated to be mired in even more severe forms of problem debt.
Meanwhile, too many people are blocked from accessing basic (but transformative) financial products – for example, there are 1.23 million adults today without a bank account. And we still know too little about the scale and impact of well-hidden illegal lenders preying on disadvantaged communities across the UK. The CSJ has recently established a Financial Inclusion Policy Unit to explore the most hidden forms of problem debt and financial exclusion in Britain and will publish a range of policy reports in 2020 and beyond.
Reversing the CSJ’s key pathways to poverty is undermined by the absence of safe, secure and affordable homes. Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy of 2017, the CSJ established a Housing Commission, chaired by Lord Best, to investigate the sharpest edges of the housing crisis, including those without a permanent home at all. Covering planning policy, rental reform, social housing supply and employer-led housing schemes, the Commission advanced a wide-ranging strategy for any Government seeking to achieve social justice through housing policy.
New research led by the Financial Inclusion Policy Unit aims to articulate an up-to-date vision of social housing in order to stem the flow of children growing up in expensive and often inadequate ‘temporary accommodation’, while ensuring that all new social homes serve as a spring board as well as a safety net.