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Debts to household bills outnumber consumer credit debts reported to Citizens Advice

31 January 2017

Responding to the Bank of England’s latest money and credit statistics Citizens Advice says rising consumer borrowing could lead to serious debt problems further down the line - but that it is household bills putting the pressure on people’s finances now.  

According to the Bank’s December 2016 figures, unsecured consumer credit is at its highest level since the financial crash and recession of 2008.

Gillian Guy, Citizens Advice Chief Executive, said:

“Rising consumer borrowing could spell debt problems for the future - but it is household bills that are a pressing issue for many families now.

“The latest figures from the Bank of England on consumer borrowing are an important tool in assessing people’s confidence in markets and can signal debt problems further down the line.  While borrowing money might be manageable now - a change in circumstance could make it more difficult to keep up with repayments, so we encourage people to think about their ability to pay back when taking out credit.

“It is important to remember that consumer credit figures only look at borrowing so don’t offer the whole picture on people’s financial security. Between January to December 2016 we helped people with 435,000 household debt issues including rent, mortgage, fuel bills and council tax - 45% more than consumer credit debts - showing that it is essential bills which are pushing people into debt now.

“To help people manage their finances it is really important that there is free, independent and impartial advice available. Anyone worried about money or struggling to keep up with their finances can come to Citizens Advice for help.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  2. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  3. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  4. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  5. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  6. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.