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UK personal debt problems in 2016

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Looking for the most recent personal debt statistics?

This page gives a summary of our 2016 Statistics Yearbook. You can find the most up-to-date personal debt statistics in our 2018 Statistics Yearbook report.

Personal debt in the UK. Research from the UK's leading debt charity

Using data from the 600,000 people who contacted us in 2016, our Statistics Yearbook explores the latest personal and household debt trends in the UK.

1. One person every 53 seconds contacts us for advice

There was record demand for debt advice from StepChange Debt Charity in 2016. 599,026 people contacted us for help during the year, the equivalent of one person every 53 seconds. In 2016 there were 3.3 million visits to the charity’s website, an increase of 100% since 2011.

Stats yearbook wage stagnation

2. Personal debt levels are rising

For the first time in at least eight years the overall average unsecured debt of our clients increased, from £13,900 to £14,251.

In addition to unsecured credit commitments, four in ten people are behind on their household bills. This is an increase of 5% over the last five years. On top of their unsecured debts this amounts to an additional average debt burden of £2,061 for these clients.

Stats Yearbook 2016 personal debt levels are rising

3. People are getting into debt at a younger age

Clients aged under 40 now account for 60% of all clients advised. Five years ago it was 52%. One in five clients is a single parent, double the proportion of single parents in the UK population.

stats yearbook 2016 people getting into debt younger

4. Renters are under financial pressure

The proportion of clients who rent their home has grown from 61% to 77.3% in just five years. The fastest growth in demand has come from those living in private rented accommodation who now account for almost four in ten clients.

Stats yearbook 2016 renters under pressure

5. Wage stagnation

Family wage income continues to stagnate. Taking into account take home pay and partner take home pay, not including benefits income the average client household wage in 2016 was £46 less per month than it was five years ago.

This means that the number of clients unable to break even has continued to rise. Even after a budgeting session, 29% of clients in 2016 did not have enough money left to pay for all essential household goods.

Stats yearbook wage stagnation

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Helping you become debt free...

“I wish to thank your staff for all the great help they gave me when I was in so much debt.
They were a pillar of support to me.” (Leslie, Essex)

Foundation for Credit Counselling Wade House, Merrion Centre, Leeds, LS2 8NG trading as StepChange Debt Charity and StepChange Debt Charity Scotland. A registered charity no.1016630 and SC046263. It is a limited company registered in England and Wales (company no:2757055). Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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