Which? is urging the Government to safeguard funding for national debt organisations as research reveals households in the North East owe almost 34p for every pound in income.
Of the nine English regions, people in the North East have the most debt, owing 34p for every pound in gross income in contrast to 12p in the South West.
The findings, published today as part of National Consumer Week, highlight the sky-high levels of debt and stark regional divisions across England.
Overall, British households are in debt by a staggering total of £1.4 trillion – 31% more than the UK’s national debt – while on average each household owes about £6,000 in unsecured debt*.
The latest Which? Quarterly Consumer Report, which tracks how people are coping in the current economic climate, has shown people are struggling to cope. It shows 2.4 million households borrowed money from family and friends, while 11.3 million households took out additional finance.
Which? wants the Government to protect funding for debt helplines, like National Debtline, which are a crucial source of information for people who are struggling to manage their finances.
Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd, said:
“The level of debt owed by people in some regions is shocking so the Government must not cut funding for national debt organisations which provide a vital lifeline for those struggling with debt.
“If people are worried about their finances, our advice is not to ignore the problem and seek help from one of the many debt charities who offer free and independent advice.”
The household debt-ratios of the individual English regions are:
> North East 34p per pound of gross income
> West Midlands 33p
> London 24p
> North West 23p
> East Midlands 19p
> East of England17p
> South East 17p
> South West 12p
Notes for editors
* The overall debt carried by British households was £1.4 trillion at the end of September 2012, according to Bank of England figures. Public sector net debt was £1,065.4bn at the end of September 2012, according to Office for National Statistics figures. Data on average household debt from: http://www.creditaction.org.uk/helpful-resources/debt-statistics.html
1. The Which? Quarterly Consumer report was published on Tuesday 23 October.
Populus, on behalf of Which?, interviewed 2,119UKadults online between 14 and16 September 2012. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of allUKadults. Sample sizes for the regions reported ranged between 50 and 139. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
2. For help dealing with debt, National Debtline can be contacted on 0808 808 4000
3. The Consumer Insight tracker is a new online resource providing a uniquely detailed picture of today’s consumers. The tracker, updated monthly, has data on consumer spending, attitudes and behaviour, and can be filtered by age, income, gender or region. www.which.co.uk/consumerinsight