StepChange Debt Charity said problems were particularly critical amongst tenants and single-parent families and it had also noticed an increase in the number of young people seeking advice.
It is urging policy makers to focus on prevention not just cure and wants more to be done to create alternatives to high-cost credit.
It said a lack of money, not failure to budget, was the underlying problem for people in debt.
According to the charity’s Statistics Yearbook, 619,946 new clients contacted the charity for debt advice last year, which was 3.5% more than in 2016. This was up 22% on four years earlier.
Meanwhile one in seven new clients in 2017 were under 25 and nearly two thirds of clients were aged below 40.
Among people contacting StepChange last year, 89% were tenants, 21.5% of new clients were single parents with children and the highest concentration of people in difficulty were in the North East and London.
Credit cards were the most common cause of debt, with more than two thirds of new clients seeking help with this problem.
Phil Andrew, StepChange Debt Charity chief executive, said: “It can be too easy to look at statistics and fail to see the anxious human face of problem debt.
“But it is both striking and shocking that last year around one in every 100 UK adults contacted StepChange Debt Charity alone for debt advice.”
He added: “As we work with the Government on the detail of the new debt breathing space scheme, and await the Financial Conduct Authority’s next steps on high cost credit, we urge policy makers to focus on prevention, not just cure.