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Last Updated: Friday, 11 June, 2004, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
Unsecured debt more than doubled
The average unsecured debt people owe has more than doubled during five years from 890 to 2,000 in 2000, according to a government report.

It says lone parents had a much higher risk of being in debt than two-parent families, and were also more likely to have long-term financial difficulties.

Families in arrears were more likely to have a young head of the household, usually in their 20s, not wage earning.

The government-backed study was carried out by the University of Bristol.

Those falling into debt were more likely to be tenants rather than homeowners, have an income of between 7,500 and 15,000, have three or more children and not have access to a bank account.

The average owed by families in arrears was 300, although 25% of families who owed the most were around 740 behind on payments, with single parents tending to owe the same as two parent families.

The survey showed 40% of households said they had got into arrears as a result of losing their job.

Around 40% of families who were currently facing financial difficulties said they had done so for more than a year.

The research was based on a number of national surveys including the Families and Children Study, British Household Panel Study and the Department of Trade and Industry.

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