Press, Policy & Research


Nearly two in five Brits worry about their debt levels, R3 research shows

Nearly two in five Brits worry about their debt levels, R3 research shows

19 March 2020

Nearly two out of five British adults (37%) are worried about their current level of debt, according to new research from R3, the insolvency and restructuring trade body. 

R3’s Personal Debt Snapshot, a survey of more than 2,000 British adults carried out by Savanta ComRes, revealed 24% of respondents are ‘fairly worried’ about their current level of debt. Eight per cent of respondents to the survey are ‘very worried’, while 6% are ‘extremely worried’.

For those who worry about their level of debt, credit cards are the biggest concern. More than half (54%) of those who said they were worried about their debts are worried about them, followed by overdrafts (24%) and bank loans (19%). Mortgage repayments were also a concern for 15% of those who said they were worried about their level of debt.

R3 President Duncan Swift says: “Debt worries can be stressful – people worry about how and when they’ll be able to repay their debts, the impact debts will have on their credit ratings and ability to borrow in future, and the effect it will have on their ability to rent or buy property.

“And it can have an emotional effect as well. It can take a toll on an individual’s performance at work, personal relationships, and, most worryingly, their physical and mental health.”

Talking your way to a solution

The first thing to do if you’re worried about debt, Swift says, is talk about it:

“It’s never an easy thing to talk about, but when it comes to personal finance worries, a problem shared is a problem halved,” he explains.

“Whether or not you feel able to talk to those close to you about your debt worries, making sure to seek advice from a qualified and regulated professional is always a good idea. They will give you unbiased and non-judgemental advice on what your next steps should be in order to get a handle on your situation.

“A conversation with a qualified and regulated professional about your debts will enable you to fully understand the nature of the issue you face, and the solutions that are open to you to manage and resolve it. And the sooner you seek advice, the greater the range of options available to you, and the more considered a decision you’ll be able to make.”

Debt worries affected by age and home ownership

Over half of renters (52%) said they were worried about their current level of debt, while only three in ten (29%) homeowners said the same thing.

And younger British adults are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to say they are worried about their current level of debt. Nearly half of those aged 18-34 and 35-54 say this (both 49%), compared to 18% of those aged 55 and over.

Duncan Swift says: “People in the private rented sector are more likely to spend more than a third of their income on housing than those in any other sector, which could go some way towards explaining why they are worried about their finances.”

He continues: “Younger adults are more likely to have lower incomes and larger financial commitments – like mortgages or student loans – than their more mature counterparts, so it’s no surprise that they are more concerned about their levels of debt.

“But people aged 55 and over have different debt worries. They’re more likely to have paid off their mortgages and are more likely to be concerned about credit card repayments and overdrafts – as our data shows.”

Male and female debt worries

A further finding from the survey was that women are more likely than men to say they are worried about their current level of debt. R3’s survey showed that 41% of women said they were worried about their current level of debt compared to 33% of men.

Note: Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,091 British adults online between the 6th and 7th January 2020. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all British adults by age, gender and region. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at


Share this page
For more information please contact
Stuart McBride
Stuart McBride
020 7566 4214
Further Information & Articles
  • R3 Blog Member news, commentary and analysis from R3
  • Policy & Research Insights into the economy and the insolvency and restructuring, and recommendations for reform
  • Consultation Responses Our responses to Government consultations on insolvency and restructuring issues
James JeffreysJames Jeffreys
Head of External Affairs
020 7566 4220
Stuart McBrideStuart McBride
Senior Communications Manager
020 7566 4214
Amelia FranklinAmelia Franklin
Communications Officer
0207 566 4203
Pim UngphakornPim Ungphakorn
Senior Public Affairs and Policy Officer
020 7566 4202

R3 members can provide advice on a range of business and personal finance issues. To find an R3 member who can help you, click below.