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Average Personal Debt UK 2022

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

Personal debt is money owed by a singular person. These debts could be anything from a credit card debt, mortgage, financing, or even an unsecured debt. In the UK alone, the personal average total debt is £33,410 in March 2022, which is a rise of £1,767 since January 2020. That equates to around 107% of average earnings per adult!

According to figures from January 2022, the total interest payments on personal debt in the United Kingdom during a 12-month period would have been £44,940 million, or an average of £123 million a day. In total, that works up to an average of £857 in interest payments for each person each year.

The average total for unsecured debt in the UK has reached a staggering £3,743. We have studied statistics from data from the Office of National Statistics and The Commons Library to identify patterns and changes in UK personal spending habits. But why are these figures increasing? 

To better understand, let’s take a look at some of the UK debt statistics over the past year or two:

UK Personal Debt Statistics

Here’s a snapshot of average debt in the UK:

  • At the end of February, the UK population owed £1.698.4 billion, an increase of £15.1 billion or £286 per adult.
  • The average adult owes £33.410 in total debt.
  • In March 2021, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicted that the total UK household debt would climb from £2,006 billion in 2020 to £2.354 billion in 2025, resulting in an average total debt of £82,641 per household in the United Kingdom.
  • Water, electricity, and gas cost the average UK household £4.20 each day.
  • During the first quarter of 2021, 290 people were declared insolvent or bankrupt in England and Wales.
  • Between December 2020 and February 2021, 2,267 employees were laid off every day.
  • The months of October to December 2020, a property was repossessed every 15 hours and 46 minutes.
  • There were an additional 18 UK mortgages in arrears every day that was more than 2.5% late.
  • 850 people were out of work in the UK every day in the last year.
  • There is an average cost per day of £23.25 for couples and £28.22 per day for a single parent to raise a child from birth to the age of 18.

We started our research into UK debt statistics by looking into why people get into debt in the first place. Here’s what we found.

What Is the Biggest Cause of Debt in the UK?

There are so many different stories about why people landed in debt. The most common are to do with losses of income and unexpected expenses. Sometimes it is the result of simply overspending and a lack of financial literacy. 

Nearly 50% of all reasons for falling into debt in the UK were unemployment or redundancy, reduced income or benefits, and lack of control over finances. Not only that but England and Wales declared 313 bankrupt or insolvent individuals every day between August and October of 2021. That’s one every 4 minutes 37 seconds.

Of course, a lot of the unemployment and redundancies can be put down to the pandemic, and many people who were still employed were put on furlough to help subsidize income, and we witnessed the UK economy falling into hardship. 

Because of this, there was a significant amount of government debt accrued from millions of people nationwide being put on furlough. Borrowing from credit lenders became an easy way to keep up with monthly repayments on necessities. But, many people in England found themselves paying out way more than they could afford. 

However, these other causes are still valid reasons for going into debt.

So how much debt are people really in?

Personal loan debt is just over £5,000 on average per household.

Personal loans account for an average debt of £5,233 in debt per household, not including student loan debts. When this is taken into account, the average household debt in the United Kingdom climbs to £10,145 per household. It is safe to argue that student debt is a heavy burden for young people in the United Kingdom. 

Included in this figure are personal loans, home improvement loans, and vehicle loans. In the same way that average credit card debt has become more prevalent, personal loans have become a popular way to pay for things in recent years. There has been significant growth in student loans over the past 10 years, as shown in the chart below, approximately a fourfold increase.

Source 

Since the financial crisis began in 2008, the total amount of household debt rose from 85% to 148%. During this time banks were reluctant to lend money to consumers, therefore the following years fluctuated when it came to debt-to-income ratios. Research shows from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that the household debt-to-income ratio would climb gradually over the next few years, reaching 150% by early 2024.

How many people have debt products?

Personal debt can take numerous forms, ranging from mortgages to bank overdrafts, and credit card debt to college loans. Mortgages, predictably, are the largest in terms of total debt. A mortgage is held by roughly one-third of households.

In terms of debt other than mortgages (often referred to as consumer credit), nearly half of UK adults (51%) have accessed it in the last year. This figure does not include the 29% of adults who use credit products, primarily credit cards but pay them off in full every month (known as “transactions”).

Has the Average Personal UK Debt Increased?

Yes, according to the same source, personal debt has increased by £498 per adult since the fourth quarter of 2019.

This works out at more than £26 billion more debt across the UK in just 12 months. 

Debt by age group UK

The table below displays the percentage of UK adults, broken down by age group, who have or have had various types of consumer credit products in the last 12 months (2017 data). Overall, people aged 25-44 are the most likely to have consumer credit, with 71% of those aged 25-34 doing so, compared to only 20% of those aged 65 and up.

Debt levels are highest among homes with a head of household aged 18 to 34 years old, with an average non-mortgage household debt of £10,400. In general, the older a person gets, the less debt he or she owes. Having said that, those over the age of 75 have the lowest average credit card debt and household debt, at £4,400.

Debt by region UK

If age is something that needs to be taken into account when it comes to looking at the average personal debt in the UK, then we must also look at the region too. Salaries, house prices, and the general cost of living differs from region to region around the UK, so therefore levels of debt will differ because of affordability.

We found these useful tables from the House of Commons Library (put together by the FCA) that show the difference between the average debt by region for those with a mortgage, a student loan, and those without. 

Source 

As you can see, areas with larger cities and the capital have much higher average personal debt than those from less populated areas of the country.

Debt by gender UK

Men have a substantially higher level than women when it comes to carrying debt. Men have an average of £2,800 in personal financial debt (excluding mortgages), but women have a 36% lower average of £1,800. Men and women are equally likely to have any financial obligations, with both genders accounting for 35% of all outstanding debts. Men and women have similar debt-to-income ratios of 0.16 and 0.15, respectively, which is a rather stable level.

Source 

While men are much more likely to have debt than women, women are perceived to be less confident and informed about financial services than men and therefore are more unlikely to be carrying debt.

The Financial Lives survey from the FCA invites people to rate themselves on a variety of confidence and risk factors. The graph below depicts the percentage of persons who rate themselves as low (0-6 on a scale of 0-10) or who agree or disagree with various claims.

Financial confidence vs genders graph

Source 

The results demonstrate that men and women had similar levels of dissatisfaction with their own financial circumstances. However, there are some notable differences in their levels of risk aversion and confidence in financial affairs, including:

  • Men are more at ease when it comes to interacting with financial services than women.
  • Women are more likely than males to report they lack confidence in their ability to manage money or understand financial issues.
  • Women seem to be more risk conservative in their financial management.

How Much Are We Saving?

Not only is UK personal debt increasing, but we are also putting less away for a rainy day. The Money Charity also state that nearly 13 billion households in the UK have savings below £1,500. Some of these households have no savings at all.

This is a big concern.

Why Is This Worrying?

The reason why a lack of savings is worrying is that this is one thing that can contribute to debt problems and increase the average personal debt in the UK.

Many people get themselves into debt because they lose their job unexpectedly or have an unforeseen bigger purchase to make, such as a new washing machine or a car repair. 

With no savings to fall back on during these periods, they enter into new debt or cannot pay existing lenders the money they owe, making their debt materialise.

Conclusion 

We can see that your debt can vary depending on your age, where you live, the type of debt you have, and also your gender. However, if you are in debt, you can still get out of it! We have lots of useful in-depth articles that will help you understand the ins and outs of your debt, and help you get back onto your feet.

What Support Is Available for UK Debtors?

The numbers might be worrying and your personal debt may be keeping you awake at night, but there is help available. Here are three places to go when you have personal debt in the UK:

#1: Debt Charities

UK debt charities are free for debtors to contact and receive debt advice. Their teams will be able to help you know what the people can and can’t do when chasing money from you, but even better, they will help you identify ways to gradually get out of debt. And these solutions will stop any legal threats you might have received!

The only problem when using debt charities is that they might not offer free debt solutions themselves. Sometimes they can try to get you a Debt Management Plan, but it is rare that they can get you IVAs, DROs etc. 

#2: Debt Management Companies

If an IVA or other formal debt solution is more advantageous to you – it might save you money and wipe off as much as 85% of your debt – then you will need the help of an insolvency practitioner. These are professionals who can help arrange legally-binding debt solutions. These services cost but you can save in the long run.

Sometimes insolvency practitioners are also employed within accountancy firms and financial advice companies. 

#3: Online Forums and Websites

Another source of support and help is found on online debtor forums and free finance websites. For example, there are numerous IVA forums for people who are considering this debt solution or are already on an IVA and want help from an educated community.

We recently wrote a review on the best IVA forums for you to check out!

The Money Nerd website is also full of helpful financial information that has been simplified for everyone to understand. Our debt management company reviews are especially popular in helping people choose a reputable company to provide them with debt solutions.

Resources

FCA.org

Statista.com

The Money Charity

Nimble Fins

House of Commons Library

UK Debt Service

Review42.com

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