Size of personal debt continues to rise

Latest Equifax research highlights the different kinds of debt facing consumers and offers tips on taking steps to regain control

According to the latest YouGov debt research commissioned by Equifax1, 15% of UK adults have missed a payment on a credit card or short term loan at some point. Almost a third (32%) of UK adults with a credit card admit that, in a typical month, they don’t pay off their credit cards debts in full, with over half (52%) of these saying it’s because they can’t afford the full monthly balance. With the net lending to individuals in the UK increasing by £9.68 million a day in March 2018 and an average debt to income ratio per adult in the UK at 114.4% as of May 2018 2, Equifax asks the question: is all debt bad?

A new Equifax debt infographic looks at how UK consumers are using credit.   

Household debt has been on the increase over the past few years, fuelled by squeezed wages and rising inflation. Last year alone the total credit card debt of households across the UK stood at £70 billon by November – equating to an average debt of £2574.00 per household3. Whilst using credit can be useful for various reasons, there is a tipping point where the borrowing can turn into unmanageable debt. If someone can no longer afford to repay their debt they may have to opt for an Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) or even declare themselves bankrupt.

Lisa Hardstaff, consumer credit expert at Equifax, comments, “According to our YouGov research, 40% use credit cards for day-to-day spending, which isn’t strictly a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ thing. But 13% of respondents have gone into their overdraft limit without approval from the lender, which could mean incurring extra charges and fees. Our infographic aims to help consumers see the different kinds of debt and recognise the risks, whilst outlining steps they can take to regain control of their finances.

“Not all debt is bad. If it’s managed properly and paid off, loans and credit cards can help people make plans and deal with unexpected events and emergencies. However, it’s vital that people understand the basics of budgeting, otherwise borrowing can spiral out of control. The first step to budgeting is understanding what’s coming in in terms of wages, benefits and other income. Individuals also need to take stock of their outgoings, including bills, pensions, loans and daily purchases, such as coffee or clothes. By subtracting their total spending from their total income, individuals will be able to see if there’s a shortfall and make positive changes.”

For further information on good debt vs bad debt visit the Equifax knowledge centre.

1All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2122 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between  2nd - 3rd January 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).




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About Equifax

Equifax Inc. (Equifax) is a global information solutions company that uses unique data, innovative analytics, technology and industry expertise to power organizations and individuals around the world by transforming knowledge into insights that help make more informed business and personal decisions.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., Equifax operates or has investments in 24 countries in North America, Central and South America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. It is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500® Index, and its common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol EFX. Equifax employs 10,400 employees worldwide.

Equifax Limited is one of the Equifax group companies based in the UK.

Equifax Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.