Women and debt
UK homes now owe an average of approximately £14,540 in unsecured loans. This means households are now spending more money on repaying debt than ever. Insolvency rates for women have increased significantly and overtaken insolvency rates for men. Insolvency amongst women aged 65 and over has increased by 88% in the past ten years according to data from the Insolvency Service.
Why so many women struggle with debt
There are several reasons that women are more likely to struggle with debt.
Women are more likely to have taken time out of the workplace, have caring responsibilities and have less money in a private pension. Women also head up most single parent families, which correlates strongly with financial hardship.
The gender pay gap amongst all employees is 17.3%; this data is from the Office of National Statistics 2019 report.
This means that women can very quickly find themselves unable to continue to make debt repayments they had been making once they find themselves surviving on the state pension or after the breakdown of a significant relationship.
The Young Women’s Trust recently identified, in a survey of approximately 2,000 young women aged 18 to 30, that 37% of women struggle to make their money last until payday compared with 29% of men. A third of young women are in permanent debt with young mothers more likely to say they are always in debt.
42% of women had been offered a zero hours contract compared to 37% of men and 11% of young mothers said they had used a food bank.
At Excel Enforcement, we carry out debtor profiling. This enables us to ensure we are using the correct approach and initiate vulnerability policies and procedures as early as possible. For instance, we will ensure in making telephone calls that the debtor is asked how they prefer to be communicated with and, if they have a visual impairment, we will take this into account with large print letters and documentation.
If we are aware the debtor is a single parent, this will also be flagged up on our system.
All staff are able, through accredited training, to identify signs of vulnerability and this includes everyone working within our customer contact centre. We will look out for key indicators of vulnerability and ensure that any consented disclosures are communicated to the creditor. This means that creditors have more control over external recovery processes and in line with their own policies