£1,000,000,000,000 owed by consumers

29 July 2004
British consumers now owe more than £1 trillion.

The Bank of England has released consumer debt figures for June today and analysts predict Britons will have borrowed more than £1 trillion on cards, mortgages, loans and overdrafts.

Currently the UK's personal debt mountain stands at £993 billion and is equal to the total amount owed by Africa, Asia and Latin America to international banks and through loans from other countries.

Britain has the highest level of consumer debt in Europe and debt charities are warning people to consider whether or not they can manage their debt burden if the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) continues to raise interest rates.

Britons have been borrowing more in recent years, encouraged by a combination of low interest rates, soaring house prices and low unemployment.

However, the National Consumer Council estimates that around six million families are already struggling to keep up with credit repayments and Citizens Advice claims it has seen a 44 per cent increase in the number of people coming to it for help with debt in the past six years.

Teresa Perchard, Citizens Advice director of social policy, said: "The ever-increasing growth in consumer borrowing will almost certainly lead to problems for a record number of people, who will face more serious debt problems than ever before."