In Ireland, the SSVDP reports that middle class couples with mortgages are the fastest growing group seeking charitable assistance and advice. Rising energy costs and food bills mean that “financial difficulties are spilling out and crossing socio-economic groups.”

Worldwide we are seeing news report after news report about “fuel poverty” and “food poverty.” Rising prices put pressure on those who were just about making ends meet and many who were struggling to make mortgage payments find themselves unable to do so. In places like Ireland, which faces rising unemployment and inflation, the economic squeeze is aggravated.

As a result, charitable groups everywhere are reporting increased demands for their services and are having to turn clients away because of lack of resources. Community Money Advice, a UK organization that assists churches and other community organisations in setting up debt advice centres in their local communities, reports that it is “seeing a new type of client. Teachers, police and banking and service sector workers, many of them homeowners, are struggling with mortgages, secured loans, and credit card debts…They were already financially stretched but have been pushed over the edge by dearer credit and big increases in food and utility costs.”

The needs of the middle class are less dire than those living in extreme poverty. But we risk increasing numbers of people falling into poverty absent greater efforts to provide debt and other financial advice and other reforms aimed at helping homeowners pay their mortgage debts.