Despite the best efforts of UK householders to pay down their loans, they remain highly indebted to the extent that in the final three months of 2011 families struggling with debt paid up to 23.8%of their disposable income on debt interest.
That equates to £199 a month just to keep up with interest payments.
According to the charity the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS – www.cccs.co.uk/) the debt to net income ratio, which stood at about 1.2 to 1 in January 2000 and rose to nearly 2 to 1 by January 2009, is still in the order of 1.8 to 1. The fall since 2009 is put down to a reduction in secured lending, overdrafts and bank loans. CCCS expects this to fall to about 1.5 to 1 by the December 2014.
The CCS report based on research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), ‘Consumer Debt and Money Report’ (www.cccs.co.uk/Portals/0/Documents/media/reports/additionalreports/CCCS_Consumer_Debt_and_Money_Report_Q4_2011.pdf), is the first in a series of reports designed to give interested parties an understanding of what it sees as the rising problem of household debt.
It says that as UK unemployment increases in the coming years the requirement for debt advice will grow with a peak expected in 2014. CCCS also predicts that the number of older people requiring debt advice will increase with its own share of those clients over 45 rising from 2005’s 28% to 47.6% by the end of 2014.
The areas of the UK showing the quickest rise in debt problems are Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber. But London and the North West have the highest actual demand for their services.
The main drivers of debt are put down to a squeeze on real disposable incomes by high inflation and the rising costs of essentials causing many to resort to credit in order to ‘smooth’ things over.
Likening household finance to a bank’s the CCCS said “These factors will continue to put pressure on households as they try to rebuild their balance sheets following the financial crisis and recession.”
The requirement for credit is projected to remain high over the coming years which, with restrictions on getting loans etc may force people to go down the avenues of higher interest Payday loans, to pawnbrokers or even to loan sharks.
There are many organisations out there like the Citizens Advice Bureau and CCCS (which it says assisted 400,000 people last year) that can help people with free debt advice, so people who feel cornered by debt do not need to pay fees.
There are also other resources such as the Consumer Action Group.