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Poorer families have more problem paying debts, says the IFS

Tuesday, 16th January 2018

New research from Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reveals that a third of the lowest income households have unsecured debts (credit/store cards and loans) greater than their assets.

The IFS said that household unsecured debt has been rising by 10% a year with a quarter of very low income households unable to meet their current bills and debt payments.

Unsecured household debt in Great Britain

Around half of households in Great Britain in 2012–14 had some unsecured consumer debt, with 10% of households holding over £10,000 of such debt. Almost half of this kind of debt is from formal loans (43%), with credit and store card debt (25%) and hire purchase debt (21%) the next most significant categories.

Those with lower incomes are less likely to hold any unsecured debt, but are more likely to be in ‘net debt’, with unsecured debts of greater value than their financial assets. 35% of those in the lowest income decile have debts of greater value than their financial assets. This compares with 10% in the highest income decile.


Being in arrears on debts or other payment obligations (e.g. utility bills) is highly concentrated amongst the lowest-income households – 16% of those in the lowest income decile are in arrears compared with just 1% of those in the highest decile.

More information and full news release here



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