The average in-debt British adult owes £5,778 (excluding mortgages and student loans), according to research by R3, the insolvency trade body.
R3/ComRes’ survey of 2,000+ British adults found that the average owed by those in debt is equivalent to 11 weeks’ average weekly earnings for a UK worker (£503 per week) and seven months’ average rent in England & Wales (£792 per month).
According to an earlier R3/ComRes survey in November 2014, the average debt was £245 lower, at £5,534.
The survey also found that 11% of British adults owe £10,000 or more and 4% owe £20,000 or more.
Andrew Tate, president of R3, says: “The continued availability of cheap money and only low levels of wage growth have contributed a significant proportion of British adults building up, once more, a sizeable amount of debt in the years after the financial crisis. Falling personal insolvency rates suggest these debts are sustainable, at least for the time being.”
“However, the survey also finds almost two-in-five British adults struggling from payday to payday. Debts could continue to build and become unsustainable if people don’t have extra money left over at the end of the month to repay the principal debt.”
The survey also found that a number of British adults who are at least ‘fairly worried’ about their level of debt say they are likely to get into further debt in the coming months by taking out a payday loan.
Andrew Tates adds: “There has been movement towards providing people in debt with a bit more breathing space to help them deal with their debts before it’s too late. The creditors’ petition level for bankruptcy has been increased from £750 to £5,000 while the government has been considering a statutory ‘breathing space’ from creditor action for those in debt, But attention must be paid too to encouraging people to seek early advice about unsustainable debt to prevent problem debt building up in the first place.”
When the survey was conducted at the beginning of June, 37% of British adults were fairly worried about their current level of debt, the lowest level since research began in July 2010. Economic pessimism continues to be low, with just 14% expecting their personal finances to worsen in the next six months.
Andrew Tate continues: “On the eve of the EU referendum the British public had record low levels of debt concerns and pessimism about personal finances was low. Obviously the Leave result has brought us into a period of considerable uncertainty. While there is no reason that debt levels should necessarily rise as a result, it will be very interesting to see in the next survey how people’s attitudes to their personal finances have been affected by the vote.”
For those concerned about debt, credit cards (45%) remain the primary source of worry, followed by overdrafts (22%) and bank loans (16%).
Mr Tate continues: “Credit cards are consistently the leading cause of concern for those with debts. With today’s technology allowing you to pay ‘contactless’, and even through your phone, it can be easy to lose track of what you’re charging to your card. Without noticing, debts can begin to grow.
Notes to editors:
- ComRes interviewed 2,032 British adults online between the 10th and 12th June 2016. Data were weighted to be representative of all British adults by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
- Average weekly UK wage and monthly rent figures from the ONS.