Debt statistics 2020: How far in the red is the UK? | finder.com

Debt statistics UK 2020

How much debt is the UK in?

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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.

110%

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 or short term loan, 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.

3%

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
matt.mckenna@finder.com@MichHutchison/in/matthewmckenna2

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