THOUSANDS of York children are living in families trapped by debt, new research has revealed.

The study by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity showed that 132,922 families in the region were failing to keep up with household bills and loan repayments - leaving an estimated 231,000 children affected by problem debt.

A spokesman said each struggling family was behind on payments by an average of £4,229 and, across the region, families owed a total of £562 million in bills and loans.

The statistics showed that in the York Central parliamentary constituency, 2,478 families had problem debts, affecting an estimated 4,322 children, with the total debt owed by families coming to £10.47 million.

The researchers said that in the York Outer constituency, there were 1,381 families with problem debts, affecting 2,408 children and with a total debt of £5.83 million.

In Selby and Ainsty, there were 2,218 families with such debts, affecting 3,869 children and with a total debt of £9.38 million.

Thirsk and Malton had 2,289 families in such a plight, with a total debt of £9.67 million and affecting 3,992 children, while Harrogate and Knaresborough had 1,829 families in such debt, with a total debt of £7.73 million and 3,190 children affected.

Yorkshire East had 2,832 families with a total of £11.97 million in debt, affecting 4,939 children.

The spokesman said debt put stress on family relationships and trapped families in a downward spiral of borrowing.

He said the charities’ report, The Debt Trap: Exposing the impact of problem debt on children, showed how family debt caused children to suffer from worry and anxiety, experience bullying and miss out on essentials.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said: “Families in Yorkshire and the Humber are increasingly relying on debt as a way to make ends meet – but we’re in danger of ignoring the impact this is having on children now and in the future. We cannot allow children to pay the price of debt."

The society is calling for a series of measures from the Government, including considering developing a ‘breathing space’ scheme to give struggling families an extended period of protection from additional charges, further interest and enforcement action, and the provision of earlier and wider access to debt support and advice to help families.