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Unsecured debt

Key points

  • London differs very little from the English average either in the proportion of households that have unsecured debt or the amount of debt they have.
  • On average, households in debt each owe around £2,800.
  • The most common type of debt is credit card debt, which is held by around 30% of households in London.

One form of debt is unsecured debts. This includes credit or store card balances which are not paid off within the required period, authorised and unauthorised overdrafts and all forms of fixed-term loans (including personal loans, student loans, hire purchase agreements and mail order accounts). It excludes mortgage repayments, as they are secured against the value of the home. It also excludes credit secured from unregulated sources like doorstep lenders or loan sharks.

Around half of households in London have some form of unsecured debt. A slightly higher proportion of households in the bottom half of the income distribution have an unsecured debt. These proportions are very similar to the rest of England.

Levels of unsecured debt are also very similar in London to the national average, at around £2,800 per household in debt. The figure for households in the bottom half is slightly lower, at £2,200, which is lower than the comparable figure in the rest of England (£2,500).

The most common type of debt is credit card debt, which is held by around 30% of households. 20% of households have an overdraft facility which they currently use, rising to 25% of households on below average incomes.

Bear in mind that a household may have more than one type of unsecured debt.

Data used

NPI analysis of Wealth and Assets Survey, Office for National Statistics, 2006-2008.

It is not possible to analyse the trends over time in personal and household debts as the underlying data comes from a newly published survey that did not exist before 2006.

Indicator last updated: 18 October 2011