In 2008/10, total household debt in Great Britain was an estimated £943 billion, according to data from the Office for National Statistics’ Wealth and Assets Survey. Of this debt, £95 billion – or 10.2% – comprised financial liabilities, such as outstanding credit card balances and loans. The remaining £848 billion (89.8%) comprised property liabilities that arise from mortgages held against a household’s main residence.
The value of both financial and property debt increased between 2006/08 and 2008/10 in cash terms; financial debt by 10.3% and property debt by 3.1%. However, while the percentage of households with financial debt increased by 1.1 percentage points to 51.0% over the two years, the percentage of households with property debt fell by 0.9 percentage points to 37.3%. Half of the households with financial debt owed more than £3,200. Of the households with property debt, half owed more than £75,000.
The household type with the largest percentage having financial liabilities was ‘lone parent with dependent children’ (73.7%). ‘Married/cohabiting couples with dependent children’ was the household type that had the highest percentage with property liabilities (67.6%).
Meanwhile, households headed by a person age 25-34 had the highest percentage with financial debt (73.9%). For property debt, households headed by a person age 35-44 had the highest percentage with liabilities (60.8%).
A household’s wealth may influence the extent to which it feels its debt is a burden. The burden caused by such debts is important to study. Despite property debt increasing by 3.1% between 2006/08 and 2008/10, the percentage of individuals reporting that their property debt was a heavy burden decreased by 1.6 percentage points to 13.6% in 2008/10.
During the same period, the percentage of individuals reporting that their financial debt repayments were a heavy burden increased by 1.8 percentage points to 18.0%.