Borrowing money from friends and family

Lending money to loved ones is not as easy as it seems.

You would do anything for your friends and family, including lending them money if it came down to it – especially when the alternatives like payday loans turn out too very expensive. But have you ever thought about how much that extra few quid here and there adds up? Do you ever expect to see it again? Or do you give your mates a “free” pass? We dug into the numbers to find out just how much money people lend their mates, and whether or not they ever expect to get it back.

Quick overview

  • £16.6 billion was lent to friends and family in 2017, but over half of these people (55%) don’t think they will get all of their money back.
  • 24.5 million Brits have lent £10 or more at least once in the 2018
  • On average, Brits lent their friends £320 each, which includes 620,000 people who lent more than £10,000
  • 35% of individuals suffered a negative consequence from lending to friends or family
  • 80% of SMEs in the UK get all their business loans from friends and family

With only £7.5 billion already returned or expected back in full, this means generous Brits are at risk of losing £9.1 billion to “mates’ rates”. Already, one in 10 people who lent money have ruled out getting a single penny back – writing off £1.7 billion in the process. A whopping 24.5 million Brits have lent more than £10 to someone at least once throughout the year, including 620,000 particularly charitable people who lent more than £10,000.

While millennials were almost twice as likely as baby boomers to have lent cash at least once last year (67% vs 34%), their older counterparts lent a much higher average of £1,489 compared to £300.

Percentage of males and females lending to family or friends

Gender Percentage
Women 50%
Men 44%

Interestingly, women appear to be more likely than men to help out a friend, with half (50%) doing so last year compared with 44% of men. Even the amount they lent was higher, with women handing out £715 compared to just £631 for men.

Amount of lending by males and females a year

Gender Money
Females £715
Males £631

Least likely to receive their money back by region

Across the UK, people from Scotland are the least likely to receive all of their money back (62%). This is followed by those in South-East England (60%) and the West Midlands (60%). Just under half (46%) of East Anglians have already got all of their money back, making this the most successful region at recouping loans from your mates.

Region Percentage
southwest 51%
southeast 60%
eastofengland 46%
westmidlands 60%
eastmidlands 59%
yorshireandthehumber 58%
northwest 55%
northeast 57%
wales 48%
scotland 62%
northernireland 56%
london 50%

What are the consequences of lending to your friend or family?

Whilst lending to friends and family in theory seems perfectly fine, occasionally there will be consequences for the lender. In an American survey, 17% of respondents said their relationship with the borrower was harmed after the lending of cash or credit. With 35% of respondents saying there was some sort of harm after lending money.

Though there are potential negative consequences to lending money, the largest proportion (35%) of the respondents replied that there was no harm done by the transaction. With lending money to friends and family being a personal decision, it is sensible to choose wisely who to offer financial help, as mates’ rates can cause these relationships to deteriorate.

Lost money 25%
Damaged credit score 6%
Harmed relationship 17%
Net: Any of the three 35%
No harm 35%
Never shared or lent money 30%

How are SMEs getting their funding

SMEs make up 99.9% of UK businesses, which consists of 5.8 million small businesses with less than 50 employees. Starting a small business requires capital to be put in to get it going. This chart shows the percentage that SMEs use friends and family for loans for their business. A staggering 86% said all their loans come from friends and family, showing the importance of mates’ rates in the world of business. 12% said some of the money into the business was from friends and family with 2% answered with none of their business financing came from this source.

Purpose Number of visits (million)
All 86%
Some 12%
None 2%

‘‘It’s great that so many selfless Brits are helping out friends and family, but it’s important to be realistic about the chances of being paid back. If you want to ensure you get the money back, here are three simple steps you can take to increase the chance of this happening:

  • Make sure the recipient is clear on the amount being lent and the date that you want to be repaid by, maybe confirm your understanding over email
  • Agreeing to be paid back in instalments will make it easier for the other person. They could even set up a direct debit to automate the process
  • Apps such as LendPal or Splitwise help keep track of personal lending and they can remind the other person so you don’t have to!

‘‘If you simply aren’t in a position to lend the amount needed, the person asking may have other people they can turn to or they could look at options such as an interest-free overdraft or a 0% credit card’’.

– Jon Ostler, UK CEO at


We calculated these figures using a survey of 2,000 British adults commissioned by and conducted by research provider OnePoll in June 2018.

Click here for more research. For all media enquiries, please contact:

Matt Mckenna
UK Communications Manager
T: +44 20 8191 8806

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Chris Lilly is Head of publishing at He's a specialist in personal finance, from day-to-day banking to investing to borrowing, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their money. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more. See full bio

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Chris has written 612 Finder guides across topics including:
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