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Surprise reduction in household debt over Christmas

Friday 3rd February 2012

Money education charity, Credit Action has released its February statistics detailing the level of debt in the UK.

Headline data include:

* £55,823 is the average household debt including mortgages, and £7948 is the average household debt excluding mortgages (December);
* £29,547 is the average amount owed by every UK adult (including mortgages) (December);
* £171million  is the personal interest paid in UK daily (December);
* 1797 people are made redundant daily;
* 857,000 people have been unemployed for more than 12 months;
* 331 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day;
* £15.68million of loans are written-off every day by banks & building societies;
* Every 14 minutes 17 seconds a property is repossessed;
* CAB deal with 8652 new debt problems each working day;
* £66.75 is the amount it costs to fill a car with a 50-litre tank with unleaded petrol;
* 26.2 million is the number of plastic card purchases made every day, with a total value of £1.252billion.

Figures for the first three bullet points apply specifically to December, other figures are based on the latest available data.

While you would expect December to be a time of high consumer spending, the figures for December not only show a decrease in average household debt (excluding mortgages), but also significant acceleration in how much it fell.

In December 2011, the decline accelerated by 50% compared with the previous month, down to £7948 from £7972. The daily amount of interest paid on personal debt also decreased in December 2011 from £173million to £171million.

Meanwhile, the number of people made redundant every day has risen. Between September and November, there were 1797 redundancies every day, up 153 from 1644 in the previous quarter.

Michelle Highman, CEO of Credit Action said: "Put in context these are striking figures with the decrease in average household debt not necessarily a cause for celebration.

"I suspect that these figures in fact represent an increased level of caution and concern in your average household, which impacted confidence in putting Christmas on credit last year. Whilst it is heartening that people did not overspend, the underlying reasons for not doing so may prove to be a real cause for concern in the coming year."

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Mike Jones

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