10 UK personal debt stats that will astound you

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streets of houses

Terraced housing, and a financial story behind each door

Recently we released an important report called Debt and the Household, focusing on how British families were coping financially during these austerity times. You’ll probably not be surprised to hear that the conclusions made for grim reading.

The report was compiled by The Financial Inclusion Centre for StepChange Debt Charity and focused on “debt and financial vulnerability in the UK, the current trends and recommendations for policy makers”. Its findings have been reported over the past month throughout the press as we’ve felt that it’s vital for as many policy makers – the likes of MPs, think tanks and quangos – need to understand the state of the UK’s personal finances.

What did they find? We’ve compiled the headline figures for you…

10. StepChange Debt Charity clients earning £25,000-£50,000 owed an average of £28,569; those earning £50,000+ owed an average of £50,810


9. 1.1m households have savings under £1,000

8. Only 5% of people who seek help from us have any savings


7. 4.3m households have no savings

  • Read more: Over five million households not saving enough
  • Why this is important: As recent research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills also found, 27% of households with no savings rely on credit for everyday expenditure. To have over four million UK households without any savings means that if there are any shocks to the economy then a huge swathe of UKhomes will fall into unmanageable debt.
  • How we can help: Read our guest blogpost from Annie Shaw Don’t trust your finances to fate on starting a fund, and if you need convincing why its important to safeguard yourself against the future have a look at Why will families be £1,500 worse off?


6. Over a third of our clients earning between £13,500 and £25,000 have no money to repay their unsecured debts

  • Read more: Concern about debt burden of low income households
  • Why this is important: As our External Affairs Director Delroy Corinaldi says, “I worry about the high debt burden that many are carrying and the impact it has on their ability to keep their heads above water”. Being unable to pay unsecured debt all too easily leads to a debt spiral.
  • How we can help: Read about debt spirals and payday loans, to try to prevent falling into unmanageable debt.


5. 2.9m renters are in rent arrears or struggling to pay their rents


4. The average unsecured debt of our clients on a low income is £12,870


3. 6.2m UK households are financially vulnerable


2. 3.2m UK households are in financial difficulty now


1. 1.2m mortgages are in arrears, in possession or subject to forbearance

(Statistics correct as of post publication date)

Peer's the digital content manager at StepChange Debt Charity. Apart from contributing to the MoneyAware blog and overseeing the charity's website and social media content, he’s walked to the top of every mountain and hill in the Lake District. Twice.

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  • Steph

    Single women homeowners who earn slightly below minimum wage are among the worst hit and higher numbers in debt arrears and requiring debt management.

  • Paul Deignton

    Hi Peer

    This was quite absorbing to read and point 9 in particular. I find it totally shocking that such a huge number of people have less than a grand saved up for the future. An emergency fund is an essential lifeline in such tough economic times and so so prudent.