Thousands of Ceredigion children are living in families trapped by debt, research by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity has revealed.

A new study shows that 23% of families in the county are failing to keep up with household bills and loan repayments, with an estimated 2,794 Ceredigion children living in families with problem debt.

An investigation by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity earlier this year found that debt puts stress on family relationships and traps families in a downward spiral of borrowing.

Mike Parker, Plaid Cymru Westminster candidate for Ceredigion, said: “It’s shocking that, in these figures on family debt, Ceredigion is in the bottom half of the table of Wales’ parliamentary constituencies. As high a proportion of our local children are living in families suffering from debt as in urban areas such as Wrexham and the Rhondda.

“Stagnant incomes since 2010 are having a real impact on society. The Coalition Government’s benefit reforms, far from targeting the popular image of ‘scroungers’, are actually hitting people on low incomes and their families.

“Yet again, we're seeing that those being made to shoulder the greatest burden are those with nothing to spare, while the incomes of the wealthy balloon even further out of control.

Mr Parker added: “I met someone just recently; he and his wife juggle a variety of freelance academic and care work jobs, but thanks to the cuts and the rise of zero hours contracts, they can no longer depend on making enough for their young family. They are real grafters, but are having to leave Ceredigion for Cardiff, in the hope that they can make ends meet there. They were heartbroken to have to make that decision, but had been left with no choice.”

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “With little savings to fall back on, it can take just one unexpected setback - like illness or being made redundant – to tip a family over the edge and into a debt trap that can feel impossible to escape from.”