Pressure and stress can be overwhelming, photo Bhernandez (Creative Commons)

Pressure and stress can be overwhelming, photo Bhernandez (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Mary Jackson

The latest report from the Trade Union Congress outlining personal debt in Britain is shocking.

1.6 million low-income families in ‘extreme problem debt’ – debt so crippling that it takes 40% of their total household income. Another 3.2 million households, that’s one in eight, are struggling to manage their debt repayments, taking up 25% of income.

Total ‘unsecured’ debt – which excludes mortgages – for UK households rose by £48 billion between 2012 and 2015. It reached a staggering £353 billion. Debt has risen and income fallen by a tenth since the world economic crash in 2007-8.

Behind these figures is a nightmare of misery and deprivation: real people, worried to death at how they are going to survive.


I worked in Citizens’ Advice for many years. It’s extremely rare for people to get in unnecessary or unfordable debt. It’s invariably a change of circumstances that makes debt unaffordable. A decrease in hours, losing a job, becoming ill, having an accident.

We can’t wait until 2020 for a general election. People are dying, children are hungry.

We need a minimum wage of £10 an hour without exemptions, and the reversal of all benefits cuts – now. Nationalise the banks and loan companies under democratic workers’ control and management. Mass investment in infrastructure and council house building to create jobs and homes.

Kicking the Blairites out of Labour and building for a 24-hour general strike against austerity would be a good starting point. The Tories are still weak and divided. United working class action with a clear socialist programme could bring them down.