In Breakthrough Britain the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) presented the destructive impact of serious personal debt. It addressed a problem that pre-dates the recent economic crisis: fuelled by the ease of access to credit, an aggressive consumer lending market, the absence of a savings culture and basic levels of financial capability, and the excessive materialism of modern society. It made policy recommendations based on the objectives of enabling access to credit without incurring unmanageable debt, allowing debtors the right type of advice and the skills to manage their money, and of encouraging Britain to develop a savings culture once again. It highlighted the intrinsic links between serious personal debt and the other pathways to poverty – in particular, economic dependency and family breakdown.
Since publication, existing levels of personal debt have become more worrying with new ways of accessing easy credit and unequal economic growth. The pressures of this debt, particularly for those on very low incomes. The daunting burden of serious personal debt looms large in the everyday lives of those living in poverty. In light of this, the CSJ undertook new research into the appalling social and personal consequences of unmanageable debt and providing the political vision necessary to combat and reverse this debilitating trend which traps people in poverty.