The total number of county court judgments (CCJs) issued against consumers in debt reached 1.15 million during 2019 – the highest on record.
CCJ figures, compiled by the Registry Trust, also show that the total value of consumer debt being chased via CCJs amounted to over £1.7bn last year. This is an eight percent rise on 2018.
The last time the number of judgments fell was in 2012. The current data shows that the number of CCJs against consumers has more than doubled since that low point, rising 142 percent.
The average value for consumer CCJs reached £1,506 in 2019, an increase of five percent on 2018, contributing to what the Registry Trust described as “severe financial strain” on vulnerable households.
While the increase has come despite low interest rates, it has emerged against a substantial rise in the unsecured consumer debt bubble in the UK. January figures from the Bank of England show that UK households owe £72.5bn on credit cards, a total that hiked £400m in November 2019 alone.
Total outstanding consumer credit, which includes credit cards, store cards, car finance and personal loans grew seven percent in the year to November, to £215.4bn.
Rising consumer debt levels will form the backdrop of a keynote speech at the Credit Summit in London on March 19, delivered by Santander’s chief economist Frances Haque. Her presentation will cover how the wider political and consumer debt landscape will affect credit risk and collections professionals this year.
Mick McAteer, chairman of Registry Trust, said: “The sustained low-level interest rates suggest an eased debt burden on households in the UK. But there is no room for complacency.”
He added: “The latest data from Registry Trust shows that a growing number of vulnerable households are facing severe financial strain.”