Household debt at highest for five years, says TUC

cars for sale Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cheap car loans have encouraged more people to borrow money

The proportion of household debt is at its highest for five years, according to an analysis by the TUC.

On average, UK homes owed 26.5% of their annual income on loans and credit cards in the third quarter of 2015, the highest rate since 2008.

The figures - based on data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - include student loans, but exclude mortgages.

The average amount owed by households is now £11,800, the highest level yet.

However, debt was proportionately greater in 2008, when it reached more than 30% of household income.

"If people start building up household debt, then at some point they're going to get in trouble," said Frances O'Grady, the TUC's general secretary.

Car loans

Earlier this week the Bank of England released figures showing unsecured debt in November had reached £2,759 per household. However, those figures excluded student loans.

One reason why debt might have increased is the popularity of car loans, which have had low servicing costs.

This week the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that UK car sales reached a record in 2015.

The TUC said the debt figures were a sign that fundamental problems in the economy had not been fixed.

It also pointed out that increases in earnings have slowed down since last summer, exacerbating household debt.

In July, average weekly earnings rose by 2.9% compared with a year earlier. By October, that had fallen back to 2%, according to the ONS.

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