Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Is there a jump in debt?

How can family unsecured debts be up 48%, when banks say families are battening down the hatches, paying down debt and running down savings?

The 48% comes from Aviva, who's latest Family Finances Report says that the typical family's debt, excluding mortgages, has increased from £5,360  in January 2011 to £7,944 in January 2012.

Against that the British Bankers Association says that unsecured lending - credit cards, personal loans and overdrafts - contracted by 1.4% in 2011. And customers used what cash they had to pay down debt and cover essential spending.

The thing is - both findings can be right.

Bank customers are being careful, yes. That what happens after recessions.

But families have other commitments: energy bills, phone bills, council tax, food and so on. These have either been rising or become a heavy burden.

Some families are in the red with the gas and electricity supplier, the mobile phone company, the council or family and friends - and those debts might be increasing.

They might turn to a payday lender to tide them over the month, a method of borrowing which can mount up very quickly.

None of this shows in the BBA's totals, but it certainly feels like debt if you have it.

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