Debt statistics

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 – you have to take it into account every time you’re budgeting for something, planning a holiday or a new project.

With the UK finding its feet after the financial crash of 2007/08, many people are looking at consolidating their debt – whether though 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. Are we out of our depth or are we staying above water?

Quick overview

How much debt is the UK in?

  • £1.637 trillion is owed by individuals in the UK (June 2019)
  • On average every Brit spent £967 on interest alone last year
  • 350 people are declared bankrupt every day in the UK
  • £31,232 average debt per adult in the UK (June 2019)
  • There is over £1.8 trillion public sector debt in the UK (June, 2019)
  • This is equal to 83.1% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)


Average debt of £31,232 per adult, is 112% 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.

Year Total debt (trillion)
2012 £1.421
2013 £1.430
2014 £1.460
2015 £1.456
2016 £1.508
2017 £1.562
2018 £1.616

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 £50 billion based on April 2019 trends
  • Borrowers paid £139 million in interest a day in April 2019
  • Per household that is an average of £1,849 in annual interest repayments alone
  • Per person that is an average of £967 a year in interest repayments


Annual interest repayments of £967 represents 3.5% 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?

  • £217 billion outstanding consumer credit lending at the end of April 2019.
  • Up from £207.1 billion in December 2017.
  • Total credit card debt in June 2019 was £72.7 billion, up from £70.1 billion in December 2017
  • Per household this is £2,653 of credit card debt alone.

26 years and 9 months

To pay back average credit card debt bearing the average interest, at the minimum repayment each month, it would take 26 years and 9 months, 6 months longer than in 2017.

Consumer credit lending in the UK from 2012-2018

Year (Dec) Debt (Billions)
2012 £156.0
2013 £158.6
2014 £168.0
2015 £177.1
2016 £190.1
2017 £205.3
2018 £207.1
2019 (Apr) £217.0

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

  • 350 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day
  • Citizens Advice Bureaux dealt with 2,527 new debt problems every day in the year (May 2019)
  • 15 properties are repossessed every day
  • 1,213 people a day reported they had become redundant between January and March (2019)

4 minutes 7 seconds

Every 4 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 £1.818 trillion in June 2019
  • UK GDP is over £2 trillion (£2.033 trillion)
  • Public sector debt is equal to 83.1% of GDP (June 2019)
  • This is down from 84.6% at the same time last year (June 2018)
  • Compared to public sector debt of 35.9% in 2007 (pre financial crash)
Year Net Debt (excluding public sector banks) as a % of GDP
2010 70.30%
2011 74.80%
2012 78.20%
2013 80.40%
2014 83.30%
2015 83.40%
2016 84.50%
2017 84.50%
2018 84.10%

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 have the highest level of debt as a percentage of GDP – at 236.6%
  • Greece has a debt of 176.9% of its GDP
  • The UK sits 28th 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 £ Billion % of GDP
2010/11 £46.8 2.9%
2011/12 £49.8 3.0%
2012/13 £49 2.9%
2013/14 £48.8 2.7%
2014/15 £45.4 2.4%
2015/16 £45.1 2.4%
2016/17 £48.7 2.4%
2017/18 £55 2.7%
2018/19 £48.7 2.3%

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

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