Starting a family causes 10% of serious debts

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Whilst unemployment, illness and divorce remain largest factors for debt, surprise statistic from reveals how many families’ finances are affected by the costs of children.

In the week the government issues its quarterly insolvency statistics, debt forum has done its own research among members to find what are the causes of, and most effective routes out of debt. The survey was conducted amongst members of, with debts ranging from £1,000 upwards, and 45% of whom had over £30,000 of debt.

Of this group, only 17% believe that they will eventually pay back all their debt by themselves. Over half (53%) have already tried to manage their debts themselves and have failed. The rest moved straight to a planned debt solution once the problem became acute. Of this group,

  •     Exactly 50% of those who have entered a DMP have described it as a ‘failed’ solution (the other 50% believe ‘it is working’ as a debt solution)
  •     All of those who entered bankruptcy had found it a final solution to their debts
  •     97% of those who had entered an IVA believe ‘it is working’ – just 3% found it had failed

One third of those surveyed admitted to being ‘very worried’ and said that they ‘think about their debts every day’.

On the source of their debts, the largest group (51%) admitted that the easy lure of credit cards was the main factor in getting them into debt. Other significant reasons given were:

  •     Expanding the family – 10% cited the cost of children, and/or the reduced income it led to as the main reason for their debt problems
  •     Unemployment, business failure or reduced income – 11% said this was the cause of their debts
  •     Divorce caused 12.5% of debts, including 2% of respondents who had had ex-partners take out credit cards without their knowledge
  •     An alarming number stated that easy credit when a student had led to a build up of debt – 8.6% said this was the reason for their debts.
  •     Illness led to 9% of debts

Andy Davie, spokesperson for said: “It is clear that our respondents overwhelmingly turn to easy credit when life gets tough. Unsurprisingly, the triple disasters of unemployment, divorce and illness account for one third of unmanageable debts. However, it is more surprising that the happy event of children caused 10% of the debts in the survey – a side of starting a family that is rarely discussed in parenting magazines.”

“Perhaps Mumsnet and other similar forums should spend more time focusing on the hard financial realities of giving up work to have a child (or alternatively paying for childcare), rather than the softer side of starting a family?”

“Finally, exists to support those in formal debt solutions, and we are delighted to find that the majority of our members think an IVA will work for them.”

Notes to editors
About this research
All figures are from Total sample size was 115 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th - 13th October 2011. The survey was carried out online.

About is the UKs biggest online IVA community for information and advice about Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs). It is a leading authority on debt and finance in the UK and receives over 5 million hits and 6,000 unique visitors per month. was formed in 2005to help improve understanding of debt and debt solutions in the UK by providing expert advice and a live forum alongside a regular roundup o fthe latest news, statistics, and research from the world of debt solutions. The IVA Forum now has 6,000 members and over 100,000 posts.


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Victoria Sisson
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