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Total_uk_personal_debt_1Credit Action lists some of the extraordinary statistics about personal indebtedness in Britain:

  • Total UK personal debt has exceeded £1¼ trillion and at the end of September 2006 it stood at £1,258bn. The growth rate increased to 10.3% for the previous 12 months which equates to an increase of £109bn.
  • Average consumer borrowing via credit cards, motor and retail finance deals, overdrafts and unsecured personal loans has risen to £4,508 per average UK adult at the end of September 2006.
  • Britain’s personal debt is increasing by £1 million every four minutes.
  • There are more credit cards in the UK than people according to APACS. At the end of 2005 there were 74.6m credit and charge cards in the UK compared with around 60 million people in the country.
  • Over two million households are estimated to be struggling to pay council tax according to a recent report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
  • The average UK consumer owes over twice as much as the average western European owes.
  • A recent survey shows that some 770,000 people throughout Great Britain, with a mortgage have missed one or more mortgage payments in the last 12 months.
  • 165,000 people had CCJs imposed on them between April and June of this year, which is up by 25,050 on the same period in 2005.
  • A quarter of those in debt are receiving treatment for stress, depression and anxiety from their GP.

A report in The Sunday Telegraph suggests that George Osborne is planning a range of necessary measures to tackle Britain’s personal debt mountain.  These include compulsory financial literacy education for all 11 to 18 year-olds; restrictions on Individual Voluntary Agreements which can leave people with poor credit ratings; and, most controversially, a seven day cooling off period between a person opening a store card account and being able to use it.

Personal debt is one of the leading causes of poverty in modern Britain and is under investigation by the social justice policy group.  Head of Margaret Thatcher’s Downing Street Policy Unit Lord Griffiths is investigating the subject and will report soon.  He believes that banks have not lent optimally and some form of statutory intervention may soon be necessary. 

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