Job losses and reduced income from work mean that many households will struggle to pay their debts in the months ahead.
Drawing on its analysis of 470,000 households with debt problems, the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) believes that families will be especially vulnerable.
"At best, the majority of these households are faced with stagnating or falling incomes and rising costs," said the CCCS. "At worst they face job losses and unemployment."
Families are particularly vulnerable; last year households with dependent children needed an additional £650 a month just to cover everyday living costs compared to those without.
The problem escalates with increasing numbers of children: families with more than three are on average £45 short of the money they need to live each month.
At the same time, changes in higher rate tax thresholds and the lowering of eligibility for tax credits are likely to spread the pain to middle-earning families, many of whom will also be hit by increases in interest rates.
Homeowners have higher levels of debt than renters. On average, a client who owns their own home has over £30,000 in unsecured debts on top of their mortgage.
And, against a backdrop of increasing pressure to increase interest rates, a 2% increase would lead to a £307 increase in monthly mortgage payments for clients across the country.
"The picture is undoubtedly bleak and it seems likely that many more families, including better-off ones, will be increasingly prone to over-indebtedness in the months ahead," CCCS chairman Lord Stevenson said.
"It is also not a uniform picture across the country: public sector cuts in terms of jobs, spending and benefits will weigh disproportionately on certain groups of people."
Debt advice specialists such as the CCCS and Debt Free Direct will offer free and impartial advice to those with debt problems.
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