140708 Households with more debt than money

In 2010–12, half of households (50%) in Great Britain had some kind of financial debt – for example formal borrowing (but not mortgages), overdrafts and arrears on household bills.  About half of these households – a quarter (25%) overall – had debts worth more than their financial assets.  Financial assets can include money held in the home or in bank accounts, savings accounts, stocks and shares, etc.

Households with more financial debt than assets were evenly spread across most of the income distribution – only households with the highest incomes were significantly less likely to be in this position.

Younger people are more likely to live in a household in such circumstances – the 25–34 year old group had the highest proportion of individuals living in a household with more financial debts than assets (38%).  Above this age the percentage decreases – down to 6% for individuals aged 65 or over.

Notes: These figures come from the Wealth and Assets Survey from the Office for National Statistics, published in Chapter 5 of their Wealth in Great Britain Wave 3, 2010–2012 release and the subsequent Wealth and Income, 2010–12 statistical bulletin.   They relate to the period from July 2010 to June 2012.  The figures on debt and assets do not cover any money tied up in property, private pensions or physical wealth (such as art or car number plates).  Incomes figures are for gross regular incomes, including earnings, benefits, tax credits and private pensions.  

Author: Lorna Booth