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Crippling Debt Levels Threaten Low Income Families


Crippling Levels of Debt Threaten Low Income Families

High levels of debt are robbing low income children of their future according to a major new report on debt released by the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS).

While acknowledging that some families make poor decisions the report, prepared by researchers from Massey University, highlights the impact of tragic circumstances, such as death and illness, in tipping low income families from manageable levels of debt into spiralling and unmanageable indebtedness.

"An increasing number of New Zealanders presenting to crisis centres, food banks, budgeting agencies and other social services, name "unmanageable debt" as a major issue in their lives" says Dr Mike O'Brien, NZCCSS spokesperson.

The daily consequences of unmanageable debt are often debilitating. For the families interviewed for the report it meant that substantial parts of weekly income were spent servicing debts, more often than not for goods already consumed such as food, petrol or clothing.

"Crippling levels of debt inevitably impact negatively on the many children being brought up in families struggling with high levels of debt" says Dr O'Brien.

The report shows that despite these difficulties, families struggling with debt strive for something better for themselves and their children.

NZCCSS has called for Government action to stop low income families getting into situations of unmanageable debt, and to help those who are already in those situations.

Major Campbell Roberts, NZCCSS spokesperson, says that the Government needs to urgently address these issues of unmanageable debt and increase the minimum wage, help increase availability of low income housing and ensure that low income workers are aware of the income support that is available to them.

"It is also essential that Government departments do not force people into further debt with unreasonable levels of debt repayment" says Major Campbell Roberts.

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