Almost one fifth of Brits (19%) would never inform a partner of their debt situation, according to new research by Equifax, the consumer and business insights expert.
The survey, conducted online with Gorkana, found those aged 65 and over (29%) are almost twice as likely as those aged 18-24 and 35-44 (both 12%) not to reveal their debt to their significant other.
Meanwhile, only a third of respondents (32%) would inform a new partner of their debt situation within three months of beginning a new relationship. Of those, men are more forthcoming than women – 37% vs 27% respectively.
Average length of time consumers wait in a new relationship before sharing details of any debt:
One to three months: 32%
I would never tell my partner about my debt situation: 19%
Three to six months: 17%
Six to nine months: 13%
More than a year: 7%
Nine months to a year: 6%
Until we were getting married: 4%
More than two years: 2%
Furthermore, over a third (35%) of people who are either married or in a civil partnership do not have a shared bank account, with the proportion rising considerably for people earning less than £20,000 (71%).
The research also revealed more than half of people (51%) have never helped a family member with their debt. Of those who had, they were more than twice as likely to have given them money (35%) rather than advice (14%) to help with their financial difficulties. Respondents aged 65 and over were the least likely to give advice (9%), and also less willing to discuss money issues at the dinner table (45%) compared to 18-24 year olds (59%).
Commenting on the findings, Richard Haymes, Head of Financial Difficulties at TDX Group, an Equifax company, said: “Our research shows that when it comes to talking about debt it remains a taboo subject, even with our friends and family. In an environment where people are borrowing at record levels, it’s concerning that they feel they can’t be open about their situation.
“It’s encouraging to see that younger generations are bucking the trend and are being more transparent about debt and money problems. This age group are faced with factors like rising higher education fees and familiarity with a low-cost credit environment, which could be aiding with normalising the concept of debt.
“People may be reluctant to divulge details of their finances to family and friends, but by carrying the burden of debt problems alone, they risk further escalating their situation. Recognising the signs of financial difficulty, informing creditors at an early stage and availing of resources such as Citizens Advice and StepChange can alleviate the stress of debt and lead to better outcomes for all involved.”