ONE in 10 Londoners living in serious debt say they are too in the red to buy food – more than anywhere else in the UK.
And nearly 15 per cent admitted they had experienced suicidal thoughts due to their money worries, another national high according to the results of a shocking new study.
The research, carried out by financial aid and personal debt specialists Hanover Insolvency, also found seven per cent confessed to being so desperate they had plundered their child’s piggy bank.
Meanwhile, around four per cent said they had turned to stripping or pornography to make ends meet.
Hanover Insolvency CEO Adam Deering is now urging people not to turn their backs on debt, and instead tackle it head-on with professional help if necessary.
He said: “The level of personal debt among Londoners uncovered by this survey, while not the worst in the land, is still highly worrying.
“In most cases these are levels of debt are not easily get rid of, no matter how hard someone works or scrimps and saves.
“Often people are causing themselves this financial distress due to splashing out on things they can’t afford in the first place, such as holidays, cars and the latest household technology.
“These things are nice to have, but they are often unnecessary and purchasing them can lead to all sorts of problems further down the line.
“We all know the cost of living is high and that it can be a struggle to get by, but many people have to learn to live within their means, as hard as that may be.
“Spending on the latest gadgets, cars or even house extensions are things that can be put off.”
Figures from the Trussell Trust show the anti-hunger charity distributed 166,512 three-day emergency food parcels across London between April 1, 2018, and March 31, 2019.
And the Hanover survey backed up claims that debt is a growing problem, with more people in the capital admitting they had to take on a second job to cope with their debt than any other area of the UK.
Huge property prices in London also made it the worst part of the country for debt incurred moving house – on top of mortgage costs – with 17 per cent claiming it is what pushed them dangerously into the red.
Nearly 11 per cent had been visited by bailiffs, a UK high, and 13 per cent said they were in debt from unexpected funeral costs.
Mr Deering added: “People in serious trouble should always seek professional advice, as there are ways to manage their debt.
“For example, Individual Voluntary Agreements (IVAs) can help overcome their debt worries.
“It is an agreement with creditors to pay all or part of the debt, in return for regular payments to an insolvency practitioner.
“They give debtors more control of their assets than bankruptcy, with an insolvency practitioner working out what can affordably be repaid and how long the IVA lasts.
“Unfortunately, our survey also found that 55 per cent of respondents did not know what an IVA was.”
The national study, conducted by Hanover Insolvency, quizzed 1,000 people with some level of personal debt besides mortgages or university fees.
Twenty-two per cent of Londoners had ignored their debt to the point it had spiralled out of hand, while almost one in five admitted to being bad at managing money.
Fifteen per cent – the most in the country – had lied to their partner about the severity of their debt, with almost 14 per cent getting into trouble by spending too much to look good on social media.
Sixty-two per cent had credit card borrowing debt, 43 per cent a personal loan, a third an overdraft, and 23 per cent a payday loan.
Forty-three per cent had between two and three credit cards, 22 per cent four or five, and almost four per cent up to 10.