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Creditfix LB 03-2017

Women Most Likely for Essential Bills Arrears

Women are most likely to fall behind on essential bills payments according to research from a leading debt charity.

It is estimated that around 3 million consumers were in arrears on essential bills in 2017, and women are the most likely to have arrears on these type of bill payments.

Priority bills include essential household payments such as mortgage repayments, energy bills and council tax.

Debt charity Stepchange have said that an estimated 9.3 million people used credit last year to meet a household need, and many were taking on more credit to deal with priority bills.

The news comes as the latest figure from UK Finance showed that despite a slowdown in consumer credit during March this year, April showed credit card spending up by 9.8 per cent annually.

Outstanding levels of credit card debt grew by 5.2 per cent over the year, although this was down from an annual growth rate of 5.7 per cent in March.

Council tax was the most common bill to be in arrears, with 30 per cent of cases. Water bills came next on 23.7 per cent, whilst mortgages made up these dubious podium places with 20.6 per cent.

An interesting statistic to come from the research is that essential bill arrears are more likely among women rather than men.

Among the possible reasons for put forward for this disparity were the increased potential for disruption to their income, lower average incomes compared to men, and the prevalence of single parents among those in debt – the majority of whom were women.

Head of policy at StepChange, Peter Tutton, commented: ‘There is a huge opportunity for utilities providers, local authorities, landlords and other creditors to reflect on how they can create more flexible and personalised payment schedules for people whose incomes fluctuate.

‘For example, higher payments in some months and lower payments in others could help people to work around foreseeable financial pinch points in the year, and potentially help them to keep up their agreed payments.’

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