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. 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?

  • £1.680 trillion is owed by individuals in the UK (January 2020)
  • On average every Brit spent £969 on interest alone last year
  • 318 people are declared bankrupt every day in the UK (October to December 2019)
  • £31,845 average debt per adult in the UK (January 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 £31,845 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 £1.420
2013 £1.432
2014 £1.463
2015 £1.458
2016 £1.512
2017 £1.566
2018 £1.616
2019 £1.669

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 £51.1 billion based on January 2020 trends
  • Borrowers paid £140 million in interest a day in January 2020
  • Per household that is an average of £1,836 in annual interest repayments alone
  • Per person that is an average of £969 a year in interest repayments


Annual interest repayments of £969 represents 3.4% 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?

  • £224.9 billion outstanding consumer credit lending at the end of January
  • This is an increase of £560 million since December 2019
  • Total credit card debt in January 2020 was £72.1 billion, a 0.3% decrease in the year to January 2019
  • Per household this is £2,595 of credit card debt alone

26 years and 8 months

To pay back average credit card debt bearing the average interest, at the minimum repayment each month, it would take 26 years and 8 months

Consumer credit lending in the UK from 2012–2019

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

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

  • 318 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day
  • Citizens Advice dealt with 2,618 new debt problems every day in the year (to February 2020)
  • 14 properties are repossessed every day (Q4 2019)
  • 1,152 people a day reported they had become redundant between September and November (2019)

4 minutes, 17 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 £1.950 trillion in May 2020
  • UK GDP is over £2 trillion (£2.089 trillion)
  • Public sector debt is equal to 100% of GDP he first time that debt as a percentage of GDP has exceeded 100% since the financial year ending March 1963(2018/2019)
  • Compared to public sector debt of 34.2% in 2007/08 (pre financial crash)
Year Public Sector Net Debt as a percentage of GDP
2007/08 34.2%
2008/09 48.8%
2009/10 62.9%
2010/11 69.3%
2011/12 72.9%
2012/13 76.2%
2013/14 78.1%
2014/15 80.5%
2015/16 79.9%
2016/17 82.9%
2017/18 82.4%
2018/19 80.7%

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?

  • Sudan has the highest level of debt as a percentage of GDP, at 295%
  • Japan has a debt of 252% of its GDP
  • The UK sits 18th 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

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