FAMILIES in Harwich and north Essex are struggling with rising levels of debt.

The situation is forcing them to rely on credit cards and loans to make ends meet, according to shocking new figures.

The Children’s Society and StepChange debt charity says nearly one in five of families in the area, which covers Harwich, Manningtree and surrounding villages, are in debt.

The figures come just months after it was revealed there had been a 60 per cent rise in the number of people seeking help from the Harwich foodbank.

Harwich councillor Garry Calver said: “These figures are extremely worrying and show just how much needs to be done to bring meaningful employment opportunities to our area.

“Well-paid jobs are not the answer to everything, but they are probably the single most important factor in reversing these worrying statistics.”