Understanding the impact of the pandemic on debt

Poverty Picture of money
ProjectsJuly 9th, 2021

The pandemic has had a devastating impact on all of us in Wales over the last 16 months. Not all of us have been in a position to weather the storm as easily as others. Our report A snapshot of poverty in spring 2021 highlighted how rising living costs and falling incomes have pushed many households into real hardship. Whilst some have been forced to cut back on everyday items, others have been pushed into debt.

Between January and May 2021, 10 per cent of Welsh households fell behind on a bill whilst 17 per cent borrowed money to pay a bill. With many measures that have protected people who have fallen into debt coming to an end this summer, the Bevan Foundation is undertaking a project to better understand the impact of the pandemic on debt and to explore solutions.


The aim of the project is to gain a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on debt. The project will:

  • Explore who has fallen into debt in Wales
  • The depth of personal debt in Wales
  • Whether there are any differences between the current situation and the situation pre pandemic
  • The impact on people’s lives

We will aim to develop practical solutions that could ease the burden faced by households across the nation.

What are we doing?

The Bevan Foundation is developing the project by:

  • Undertaking analysis of a survey conducted by YouGov on our behalf
  • Working with stakeholders to better understand the problem and explore solutions
  • Working with people with lived experience of poverty

Key outputs 

Report – Debt in the pandemic 

Webinar – The impact of the pandemic on debt

Oral evidence – Senedd Equality and Social Justice Inquiry into debt


The Senedd’s Equality and Social Justice Committee adopted a number of the key recommendations outlined in our Debt in the pandemic report including:

  • Exploring how Council Tax arrears that have built up over the course of the pandemic can be cleared
  • Extending the Tenancy Hardship Grant to the social housing sector 
  • Retaining DAF flexibilities on a permeant basis

The Welsh Government have expected each of these recommendations either in full or in principle.

The Bevan Foundation’s work on debt received significant media coverage  and plaid a significant role in raising the issue up the political agenda. Speaking in the Senedd during the debate on Equality and Social Justice Committee’s report on debt, its Chair, Jenny Rathbone MS stated:

I want to highlight the pivotal role of the Bevan Foundation. Its work on debt raised it up the agenda for all of us, and their initial report into the pandemic and debt in Wales certainly helped prompt the committee into undertaking this inquiry as our first one.


This project is funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as part of our work on solving poverty in Wales

Tagged with: DebtPoverty


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