Almost 1.4 million families in the UK with dependent children are currently living with problem debt

“You owe me five farthings, say the bells of St Martin’s.” Like many nursery rhymes, Oranges and Lemons allows a dark reality to cast its shadow over the innocence of the playground. According to a new report by The Children’s Society and StepChange Debt Charity, almost 1.4 million families in the UK with dependent children are currently living with problem debt. It calculates that 2.5 million children are living in families that are behind in their household bills and loan repayments to the tune of £4.8bn. “When will you pay me? Say the bells of Old Bailey. When I grow rich. Say the bells of Shoreditch. When will that be? Say the bells of Stepney. I do not know, says the great bell of Bow.”

In 2014, however, children are just as likely to be singing TV jingles for payday loans. The research shows that more than half of kids see ads for loans “often, or all of the time”. Indeed, they are five times more likely to see these ads than to learn about money at school. Even in the playground, our nation’s children are immersed in a sea of marketing for quick, easy and incredibly expensive credit.

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