More than one in ten of Britain’s voters has a personal debt problem. Yet, we’ve heard very little said about debt from any of the political parties. Our mountain of personal debt seems, to us, not to feature in political debate.
More than one in ten of Britain’s voters has a personal debt problem. Yet, we’ve heard very little said about debt from any of the political parties. Our mountain of personal debt seems, to us, not to feature in political debate. Just as it appears the politicos are hiding from us the costly steps they will have to take to deal with Britain’s bank-rescue induced deficit, so it seems they are hiding from the fact that they are about to try to raise taxes from a nation where millions of people just can’t afford to pay.
It’s about time politicians took steps to help people who genuinely want to do something about their debt and in my next blog I’ll throw a few ideas into the ring.
For now, however, lets just inject some facts into the debate. I took a sample of 16,056 people from our database of people struggling with debt and looked at how things had changed between October 2008 and March 2009 and October 2009 to March 2010 (that’s the latest data we have).
Bearing in mind this data relates to people so worried about their debt that they come to us and ask for help, the top line is this:
- These people owe (just in credit card debts and unsecured loans – NOT the mortgage), on average, £22,061 (that’s £4,774 less than they owed in 08-09).
- If they were to use all their spare income (that not spent on essentials) they would take on average, 39 months to repay their unsecured debt (that’s unrealistically low – I have had to assume that their creditors are charging no interest).
- Finally, homeowners who wish to repay their unsecured debt from the equity in their home would be able, on average, to do so and still have a surplus of £8,391. That’s a huge turn round from last year – when they had an average negative equity of £7,812.
Now, before you run away thinking that these figures show that things are getting better, think on.
The number of people asking us for debt help increased by 13% between the two periods. So, I think what we are seeing is more people, with lesser debts, seeking help than ever before. For me, Britain’s personal debt issues are getting more intractable – not less.
Things vary widely from town to town, too: Britain’s most indebted place is Harrogate – with average unsecured debt of £41,667, taking 42 months to repay. Six of the ten least indebted places are in Scotland. The least indebted places are London (West Central) and London (East Central) – but I tend to ignore those simply because central London data is so variable (all those bankers bonuses – doncha’know).
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Dear candidates, we think,wherever you are standing, these will convince you personal debt is an issue that is big enough to make a difference to your vote.