Debt statistics UK

How much debt is the UK in?

Debt can have a significant impact on people’s lives and on a country’s development as well. With the ongoing economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, many people are looking at consolidating their debt, whether through secured loans, balance transfer credit cards or remortgaging – and lowering the interest they’re paying. We explore how much debt the UK is in, both as a country and as individuals. Is the UK out of its depth or staying above water?

Quick overview

How much debt is the UK in?

  • £1,685 billion is owed by individuals in the UK (September 2020).
  • On average every Brit spent £865 on interest alone last year.
  • 280 people are declared bankrupt every day in the UK (August to October 2020).
  • £31,798 average debt per adult in the UK (August 2020).
  • There is over £1.95 trillion public sector debt in the UK (May 2020).
  • This is equal to 100% of gross domestic product (GDP) – the first time that debt as a percentage of GDP has exceeded 100% since the financial year ending March 1963.


Average debt of £31,798 per adult, is 110% of average earnings

Personal debt statistics

Personal debt is the money owed by individuals. It could be from a mortgage, credit card, for example. We looked into how much is owed by the UK population. In August 2020, people in the UK owed £1.685 trillion. This is up by £23.4 billion from £1.669 trillion at the end of September 2019, an extra £441 per UK adult over the year.

Year Total debt (trillion)
2020 £1.685
2019 £1.669
2018 £1.616
2017 £1.566
2016 £1.512
2015 £1.458
2014 £1.463
2013 £1.432
2012 £1.420

How much interest is being paid on debt?

These stats show just how much interest is costing the UK.

  • Total interest payments on personal debt is over £45.4 billion based on August 2020 trends.
  • Borrowers paid £124 million in interest a day in September 2020.
  • Per household that is an average of £1,630 in annual interest repayments alone.
  • Per person that is an average of £857 a year in interest repayments.


Annual interest repayments of £857 represents 3% of average earnings

How big is consumer credit lending in the UK?

Consumer credit lending is the amount of borrowing done on credit – but can we afford to pay it back?

  • £206.7 billion outstanding consumer credit lending at the end of August.
  • This is a decrease of £10.9 billion since September 2019.
  • Total credit card debt in August 2020 was £61.4 billion, a 15.1% decrease in the year.
  • Per household this is £2,204 of credit card debt alone.

25 years and 4 months

To pay back average credit card debt bearing the average interest, at the minimum repayment each month, it would take 25 years and 4 months

Consumer credit lending in the UK from 2012–2020

Year (November) Debt (billion)
2020 £206.7
2019 £225.3
2018 £215.4
2017 £205.8
2016 £192.19
2015 £178.15
2014 £168.8
2013 £158.9
2012 £156.0

How big of a problem is debt to individuals in the UK?

  • 280 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day.
  • Citizens Advice dealt with 1,960 new debt problems every day in the year (to September 2020).
  • 14 properties are repossessed every day (Q4 2019). In 2020 (Q2), one property per day was possessed, but this number is low due to the pandemic-related moratorium on forced possessions.
  • 3,413 people a day reported they had become redundant between July and September (2020).

5 minutes

Every 5 minutes a person is declared insolvent/bankrupt in the UK

National debt statistics

National debt is the debt owed by the government of a country, as a result of a budget deficit. This is where government spending exceeds government revenue, often resulting in government borrowing.

  • Public sector debt is calculated at £2.076 trillion in October 2020.
  • UK GDP is over £2 trillion.
  • The extra funding required to support government coronavirus support schemes combined with reduced cash receipts and a fall in gross domestic product (GDP) have all helped push public sector net debt as a ratio of GDP to levels last seen in the early 1960s.
  • Compared to public sector debt of 34.2% in 2007/08 (pre-financial crash).
Year Public sector net debt as a percentage of GDP
October 2020 100.8%
2019/20 86%
2018/19 80.7%
2017/18 82.4%
2016/17 82.9%
2015/16 79.9%
2014/15 80.5%
2013/14 78.1%
2012/13 76.2%
2011/12 72.9%
2010/11 69.3%
2009/10 62.9%

How does this debt compare to other countries?

This level of debt may seem worryingly high, but how does the UK compare to other countries around the world?

  • Japan has the highest level of debt as a percentage of GDP, at 266%.
  • Sudan has a debt of 259% of its GDP.
  • The UK sits 16th in the world for highest debt/GDP ratio.

Debt interest

Borrowing money often incurs interest, even as a government. So how much is interest on the national debt costing the UK?

  • In 2018/19, £48.7 billion was spent on interest repayments.
  • This amounts to 2.3% of the UK’s GDP.
  • 2017/18 represented the largest interest repayment of £55 billion.
Year Debt interest payments (gross, £ billion) As a percentage of GDP
2009/10 £31.8 2%
2010/11 £46.8 2.9%
2011/12 £49.8 3%
2012/13 £49 2.8%
2013/14 £48.8 2.7%
2014/15 £45.5 2.4%
2015/16 £45.1 2.3%
2016/17 £48.7 2.4%
2017/18 £55 2.6%
2018/19 £48.8 2.3%
2019/20* £51.1 2.3%
2020/21* £48.7 2.1%
2021/22* £49.3 2.1%
2022/23* £49.2 2%
2023/24* £49.7 2%
Figures from 2019/20 onwards are forecasted

Sources used

  • IMF
  • ONS
  • The Money Charity
  • OBR
Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
Head of UK communications
T: +44 20 8191 8806

Related articles

More guides on Finder

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site