Debts cost households £406 a month as arrears mount

The average household spent £406 on monthly debt repayments in January, Hargreaves Lansdown has revealed.

Households with a mortgage spent an average of £814 on top of this monthly payment.

Almost one in 10 households (9%) were in arrears, while among the lowest fifth of earners, this rose to 27%.

Credit card debt was up 12.7% in a year to £68.9bn, and other consumer debt – including loans, overdrafts and car finance – was up 6.7% to £150.4bn, according to the Bank of England.

Meanwhile, one in five people were concerned about their debt position.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The relentless rise of prices means our budgets are stretched further than ever, debts have been building, and they’ve become a real issue.

“Higher interest rates have been putting the squeeze on millions of families, and aren’t going anywhere fast at the moment.

“It means a toxic combination of pressures pushing up debt repayments – leaving us with an even tougher job to make ends meet each month.

“It’s hardly surprising that one in five people are concerned about their debt position, and an increasing number of people on lower incomes are falling into arrears.”

She added: “We repaid a massive chunk of our debts during the lockdowns, but over time, they have gradually been rising.

“In December Bank of England statistics show we had £68.9bn outstanding on credit cards – only slightly down from the pre-pandemic level of £71.9bn.

“The more we earn, the more we tend to borrow, so higher earners are bearing the biggest debt burdens – the HL Savings & Resilience Barometer found that the top fifth of earners repay £628 each month.

“However, despite having smaller payments, tighter budgets can make debt repayments harder to manage for lower earners.

“The fifth of people on the lowest incomes are wrestling with repayments of £168 a month.

“And this is all in addition to any mortgage repayments.

“These average £814 for those who have a mortgage, rising to £921 for those aged 40 to 44.”

Coles concluded: “For those who have remortgaged while rates have been so high, the pain has been particularly difficult to bear, and the Barometer found that by the end of this year, one in four people with mortgages will be at risk of running into mortgage difficulties, because their repayments make up more than a quarter of their disposable income.”