Charity StepChange received a record number of requests for help with problem debts between January and June this year, it has revealed.

More than 300,000 people turned to the charity for advice – the highest half-year figure it has seen since it started keeping records in 2011.

The 313,679 people who contacted StepChange owed an average of £13,826 each, most commonly as a result of using credit cards, overdrafts and personal loans. The total amount of problem debt owed was £2.4 billion.

StepChange also found that younger part-time workers in rented accommodation are increasingly likely to seek out its help. Across all age groups, renters form 77% of those turning to the charity – up from 55% in 2011.

StepChange believes the increase in zero-hours, part-time and temporary employment contracts, combined with rent rises which outstrip wage growth, are fuelling the UK's debt problem.

It has repeated its call, made with founder Martin Lewis, for those struggling with debt to be given at least six months of 'breathing space' from interest and enforcement action so they can get back on their feet.

If you're struggling to make debt repayments, see our Problem Debt and Debt Solutions guides to find out how and where to get help.

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What does StepChange say?

Chief executive Mike O'Connor says: "Debt is a serious issue for people who are working as well as for those who are not. If we are to help people and their families get back on their feet and contribute to a growing economy, the Government needs to take the issue of personal debt seriously.

"The Government has said that it will review proposals that would see people seeking debt advice given 'breathing space' – time during which interest and charges would be frozen and enforcement action halted whilst people try to get back on their feet. The increasing number of people seeking our help shows that people who are struggling need help and the Government must now take action which is long overdue."

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