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16 November, 2021 Open access

Senedd Committee calls on Welsh Government to continue to support people struggling with basic household costs in light of ongoing levels of pandemic-related debt

New Report includes recommendations to consider ‘debt bonfires’ to write off public sector debt, extending the Tenancy Hardships Scheme and continued flexibilities in relation to the Discretionary Assistance Fund

The Senedd Committee on Equality and Social Justice has called on the Welsh Government to continue to support people struggling with basic household costs in light of ongoing levels of pandemic-related debt.

In her foreword to the report Debt and the pandemic, published today, Committee chair Jenny Rathbone says that while the broad package of UK and Welsh Government support has helped to mitigate some of the worst excesses of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic -

'The rising costs of living and the end of key measures of government support all point to a difficult period in the months ahead. With this in mind we set out to look at the impact of the pandemic on debt and indebtedness.

In times of economic hardship people are often forced to turn to debt to ease immediate financial problems. This short-term fix can easily create long-term problems for individuals. Although the extent of the debt problem has not been as great as was initially feared, our work has found that 18 per cent of adults in Wales – a higher proportion than in England or Scotland – have experienced economic hardship as a result of the pandemic. Debt and arrears on household bills and council tax have all increased, in some cases markedly. We expect some of these problems to get worse before they get better.'

As a result, the report suggests a number of steps that should be taken by the Welsh Government to ensure that advice and support reaches those who need it, particularly the most vulnerable, including that it should -

For more information, see Worst yet to come for households struggling with pandemic debt from senedd.wales