New evidence of debt slowdown

More evidence has emerged that Britons are weaning themselves off the debt habit.

The latest Bank of England Trends in Lending figures ha…

More evidence has emerged that Britons are weaning themselves off the debt habit.

The latest Bank of England Trends in Lending figures have been produced, with the data for lending to individuals indicating a "subdued" picture, with net flows lower in the three months to February than in the previous quarterly period.

It added that overall lending levels are still "low compared with the period prior to the financial crisis".

One particular feature of this was the trend for credit card debt levels to remain almost unchanged, with net flows running at "close to zero". Moreover, the survey of lenders found a broad expectation that this situation is set to continue for some time at least.

It said: "In recent discussions, the major UK lenders noted that consumers were continuing to pay down personal debt. Looking ahead, some lenders expected net credit card lending flows to be subdued in the coming months."

This situation would add further weight to suggestions that consumers have decided to focus increasingly on getting their own debt under control. In a sense this is echoing the government's own attitude of austerity, with the similar rationale being that paying off the debt today and living within one's means to do so many not be easy, but it will ensure a much brighter future in the longer run.

Indeed, it may even echo the hastily-rewritten text of the prime minister's Conservative Party Conference speech last autumn, when he started by declaring people should be paying off their card bills and then changed it to say that people are doing this – the second being a statement that the latest evidence shows has indeed been the case for many people.

Data published earlier this week showing a greater public focus on debt consolidation came from the latest Lloyds TSB Spending Power Report, which indicated the last year saw a 1.3 per cent rise in debt repayments.

Credit Action's figures have also shown unsecured debt levels to be falling, albeit by only £3 per household in February 2012.

By Joe White

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