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Debt data

Millions are building up debt just to get by

More than half of the people we help with debt advice are in a negative budget - nearly twice as high as it was in 2019.

Someone is in a negative budget when their income is not enough to cover their essential costs, even after being helped by one of our advisers.

They’re building up debt just to get by, with no way of repaying what they already owe. Like quicksand, once in a negative budget, it’s very hard to get out of it.

Use the filter in the chart below to see which groups, among the people we help, are most at risk of being in a negative budget.

But this doesn't just affect the people we help.

Now, for the first time, we've used the unique data we get from the people we help at Citizens Advice to estimate how many people across the country are trapped in a negative budget. 

5 million people are in a negative budget, including 1.5 million children - this has increased by 54% since 2020-1.

You can read more in our report, The National Red Index: how to turn the tide on falling living standards.

We're helping record numbers of people in debt

As people struggle to cover essentials, we are helping record numbers of people with debts.

In January 2024, we helped a record number of people in debt.

Energy debt has been on a particularly steep upward trend since the pandemic - and February 2024 was yet another record month for the number of people we've helped with this issue.

Use the filter menu to explore these trends for different debt issues.

Growing levels of debt

Among the people we help with debt advice, we have seen growing levels of energy, rent and council tax debt, as the cost-of-living crisis continues to bite.

People's debt problems are complex

This chart shows how when we help people with one debt issue, we usually help them with another.

For example, half of the people we help with rent arrears also need help with council tax arrears.