Debt advice charities respond to figures on consumer borrowing

By Agencies
January 31, 2018

New Bank of England consumer credit statistics show consumer borrowing has risen by 9.5 per cent in the year to December 2017, ending a period of slowing growth and pushing the total to £207.1 billion.

The 8.9 per cent growth in credit card lending has pushed the total borrowed on cards beyond the £70 billion mark to £70.2 billion.

In 2017 Citizens Advice helped more than 340,000 people with debt issues, including 121,000 people who had problems with consumer debts such as credit card, rent-to-own and overdrafts.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice said, “It is a cause for concern that the growth in consumer borrowing has quickened at a time when many people are struggling with debts.

“We are especially worried that the growth of credit card borrowing has also ticked up after a period of slowdown as our research shows people who use credit cards are more likely to get trapped in debt.

“It is important that credit card companies play their part in making sure people do not take on unaffordable debt by scrapping uninvited credit limit increases.”

New figures from StepChange Debt Charity show over 405,000 more people got in severe problem debt in the last nine months of 2017, amounting to 3.3 million GB adults.

Peter Tutton, Head of Policy at StepChange Debt Charity, said, "Whilst the steady growth in consumer credit does not necessarily indicate a debt ticking timebomb, the number of households tipped into severe problem debt is on the rise.

"With January still the busiest period for debt advice, those already falling behind with essential bills and credit repayments need better support.

"As the Treasury has committed to introducing a Breathing Space scheme to help people manage problem debt, it’s crucial government get this right so that debt advice charities can provide people the best chance of recovery and get their lives back on track."

* More about the Breathing Space scheme here

* Citizens Advice

* StepChange Debt Charity


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