Debt statistics

How much debt is the UK in?

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked
Picture not described

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

112%

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

3.4%

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

Related articles

More guides on Finder

  • How to get a £200,000 loan

    If you’re considering applying for a £200,000 personal loan, check out this guide which explains how to compare lenders and find the best deal.

  • How to get a £150,000 loan

    If you’re considering applying for a £150,000 personal loan, check out this guide which explains how to compare lenders and find the best deal.

  • How to get a £100,000 loan

    If you’re considering applying for a £100,000 personal loan, check out this guide which explains how to compare lenders and find the best deal.

  • How many people are still using bank branches in the UK in 2020?

    Are people still using bank branches? Is your area being affected by bank branch closures? Find out the latest data here.

  • Buy now pay later (BNPL) statistics | 2020

    Buy now pay later is the fastest growing online payment method in the UK. Discover the latest statistics on how it’s disrupting the payments industry.

  • Banking statistics 2020

    What are the biggest and most famous banks? Which banks are winning and losing customers? How are opinions about banks changing? We have collected all the latest banking statistics here.

  • Cloud stocks | Top cloud companies to invest in 2020

    Cloud computing stocks have skyrocketed during 2020. In this article we look at the best performers, how to invest in them, and also take a quick look at cloud computing ETFs for you to invest in too.

  • Invest in gold ETFs

    Find out about gold ETFs, what influences their prices, how you can trade them and whether they could be worth your weight in gold.

  • Most popular podcasts in the UK 2020

    We found out how popular podcast listening is in the UK, how much is spent on advertising and what the most popular podcasts are.

  • Annual leave rollover

    How many annual leave days are Brits hoping to roll over into their next holiday period?

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com 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

Finder.com 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 finder.com 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