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Debticated; UK borrowers owe £196 billion

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Consumer debt in Britain is rocketing out of control, according to new research published today by MoneySuperMarket.

The UK population together now owe a staggering £196 billion, an increase of 41 per cent since last year.

Younger generations have been significantly impacted, with 18-34 year olds seeing their debts almost double during this period, from an average of £5,446 to £10,058 (an 85 per cent increase). Those aged over 55 are the only demographic grouping to enjoy a reduction in their average debt within the past year, from £3,107 to £2,528 each.

According to the study, two thirds of UK adults are now saddled with unsecured borrowing, in the form of a credit card, personal loan, overdraft, store card or finance agreement. Last year, collective consumer debt totalled £139 billion, or £4,412 per person – today, those figures have risen by 34 per cent, resulting in an average of £5,898 debt per person.

The findings also found that half of the UK adult population currently owe money on a credit card; men are more likely to rely on credit than women, owing £7,509 on average, whereas women owe £4,139. Last year, the average individual amount owed by each gender was £4,821 and £3,899 respectively.

“This research begs the question whether the economic recovery being celebrated by politicians is simply based on a rapidly climbing debt time-bomb,” Dan Plant of MoneySuperMarket said.

“Not only are personal debts up by 40 per cent across the board, they are being paid off more slowly than a year ago. This suggests the British public may be robbing Peter to pay Paul, which would be hard to sustain. It was borrowing at excessive levels that was one of the contributing factors to the economic crisis so we must hope we aren’t witnessing a repeat of mistakes of the past.”

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