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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2007

A life of debt and poverty?

THE EROSION of real wages, growing bills, a grossly overpriced housing market and a financial crisis that led to five interest rate rises in 18 months. All these factors are blamed for a 20% rise in debt problems being tackled by Citizens Advice offices (CABs).

Citizens Advice, the biggest provider of free debt advice, says debt accounted for one in three of its inquiries - over 6,600 problems each working day. They say a worrying proportion have problems paying basic bills. Inquiries about bankruptcy rose by 50%.

Consumer debts and credit cards affected couples in their early 30s most. They had the most credit cards with large balances, many used to subsidise huge monthly mortgage payments. The mid-1990s housing boom started to push prices up, pushing up housing debts too, made worse by New Labour's block on the council house building that provided a cheaper alternative to buying. The rising cost of mortgage debt could herald the unwelcome return of mass home repossessions.

Many bank customers now find that a few missed overdraft payments can become a massive problem as escalating bank charges and fees (5 billion last year) add to debts. So do bank schemes such as payment protection insurance that brings a 70% plus profit margin.

Secured loans that act as a second mortgage on homes were beginning to cause difficulties for homeowners who used them to consolidate debts from personal loans and credit cards. The CABs were beginning to see more queries from students and ex-students as student loans threaten to force another generation into debt.

These figures underline how right trade union activists are to fight for decent wages and how important it is to battle for a socialist future where capitalist banks and landlords no longer make for a life of indebtedness for consumers.

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In The Socialist 13 September 2007:

Fighting Unions Need a New party

Postal workers: "We have the power!"

TUC conference: Standing up to Brown's attacks

Needed: a combative trade union movement


War and terrorism

Iraq: Get the troops out now


Workplace news and events

Tube workers' strike scores victory

Bosses get away with murder


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Nurses strike

Manchester cuts maternity services

Leeds - no more deficits and cuts


APEC summit

APEC summit: Thousands defy police crackdown


Socialist Party news and analysis

Overcrowded prisons, overworked staff

Keeping tabs on the millions?

A life of debt and poverty?


Socialist Party feature

Tory party struggles to recapture territory taken by New Labour


International news and analysis

Impressions of China


Socialist Party review

Robert Blincoe - a life that illuminates an age


 

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