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Consumer credit grows, but at a slower pace

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Consumer credit is growing, but at a slower pace, according to figures from the Finance & Leasing Association (FLA).

The figures show consumer finance new business grew in November by 5% compared to the same month in 2016. Retail store and online credit new business increased by 13%, compared to overall credit card and personal loan new business growth of 3%. Second charge mortgage new business increased 3% by value and 2% by volume over the same period.

This is a slower pace than the near double digit increase recorded in September, which contributed to the Bank of England’s decision to raise interest rates in November.

Another survey this week showed that credit card debt is persistent. Nine pounds out of every £10 of outstanding credit card debt in November 2016 was owed by people who also had debts two years earlier, according to a comprehensive study on consumer credit by the Bank of England and the Financial Conduct Authority.

The research also showed that personal debts had risen to the highest level since before the credit crunch, at over £200bn.

However, it also showed that more debt was being taken out by wealthier, creditworthy borrowers looking to take advantage of cheap car finance deals and interest-free periods for credit cards. Riskier ‘subprime’ households are responsible for the lion’s share of the growth.

Commenting on the figures, Geraldine Kilkelly, head of research and chief economist at the FLA, said: “Growth in retail store and online credit new business in November in part reflects the increase in retail sales reported by household goods stores following Black Friday and Cyber Monday events.

“The growth in consumer finance new business overall in November is in line with the performance of this market over the past twelve months.”

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