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UK household debt has increased, survey finds

Total household debtTotal household debt in the UK has risen, according to the Office of National Statistics in the UK has risen, according to the Office of National Statistics.

Overall, total household debt increased by four percent (£45bn) in the two years up to March 2018, according to the latest ONS Wealth and Assets survey. The survey is released every two years.


Total property debt increased by three percent (£0.03tn) and total household financial debt rose by 11 percent (£12bn) in the last period. According to the ONS, not only are the number of households with debt increasing, but the levels of debt are also increasing.


Taking the middle household as the norm, median financial debt has grown 12 percent to £4,500.


The latest data also shows that the poorest 10 percent of households have debt that is the equivalent of three times their assets, while the richest 10 percent have assets equivalent to 35 times their debt.


StepChange Debt Charity stated “it’s hardly surprising that there is a massive link between poverty and problem debt”.


In the most recent period, the number of households with problem debt has dropped from six percent to four percent. In the latest survey, 14 percent of individuals with financial debt considered it to be a “heavy burden”, and a further 30 percent considered it to be “somewhat of a burden”.


StepChange added: “As a debt charity, we are convinced that there needs to be far more of a public policy focus on early intervention when financial problems begin and improving households’ financial resilience, if we are to turn the tide on problem debt.”


Baroness Ros Altmann, former pensions minister, has this week expressed concern in a piece for Credit Strategy that the stubbornly high levels of household debt may be “repeating the mistakes that caused the financial crisis”. She believes “it is time for regulators and policymakers to wake up to the dangers of ever-rising debt and the lack of financial resilience among the population”.

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