Debt Problems cause 6 million to consolidate

Average debt consolidated is more than £13,000, says MoneyExpert.com

More than six million people have taken on more debt in the past three years in a bid to get their borrowing under control, new research* from MoneyExpert.com shows. Around one in seven adults have turned to debt consolidation to ease their financial problems with unsecured personal loans the most popular choice.

The research provides more evidence of the UK’s personal debt crisis as borrowers struggle to get a grip on their finances. And MoneyExpert.com warns that as interest rates rise borrowers will feel the pinch even more.

The amounts being borrowed to clear previous debts are not trivial – the average consolidation loan is £13,000, the independent financial comparison website says. Around six per cent of those who have consolidated debts in the past three years have borrowed more than £50,000 – around 360,000 people.

Monthly repayments on a £13,000 personal loan over three years at the lowest unsecured personal loan rate of around 5.9 per cent would be £393.99 a month. Anyone borrowing £50,000 would have to remortgage or take out a secured loan.

And while unsecured personal loans are the most popular choice for consolidating debts many people are piling the extra debt on their mortgages or taking out secured loans against their property with the risk that if they default they could lose their homes.

Sean Gardner, Chief Executive of MoneyExpert.com, said: "The UK’s debt crisis is a serious concern and borrowers are starting to feel the strain.

"Debt consolidation is entirely sensible and a good way to get your finances under control if you owe money to different lenders at varying rates of interest. Theoretically you can reduce your monthly repayments and make your debts manageable.

"However it only works if you accept consolidation is a wake-up call to get your borrowing under control and then work to become debt-free. There has to be some concern that many people simply see consolidation as a way of keeping on borrowing."

Information below shows the sources of finance used by people consolidating their debts over the past three years.

SOURCE OF FINANCE PERCENTAGE OF GB ADULTS BORROWING FOR CONSOLIDATION LOANS

  • Unsecured personal loans 36 per cent
  • Re-mortgage 18 per cent
  • Credit card with zero per cent rate 15 per cent
  • Secured loan in addition to mortgage 14 per cent
  • Standard credit card 3 per cent
  • Overdraft 2 per cent
  • Other 11 per cent
  • Don’t know 1 per cent

Yorkshire saw the highest amounts of debt being consolidated at £16,065 while East Anglia saw average loans being taken out of £15,642 and Scotland £14,439.

People using standard credit cards to consolidate debts are likely to be facing the biggest bills for sorting out the borrowing – average standard credit card rates are around 15.9 per cent.

Unsecured loans offer among the lowest rates although mortgages and secured loans are competitive. The advantage with unsecured loans is that they generally involve shorter terms and therefore mean lower interest bills. Unlike credit cards you also are forced to commit to a repayment schedule.

Someone adding £13,000 to their mortgage at, for instance, five per cent would only pay £86.92 a month on a repayment basis but over 20 years would repay £20,860.

MoneyExpert.com offers a unique service which enables people to find the financial products which best meet their specific needs, and which they are more likely to be successful in being accepted for. It includes exclusive research conducted by MORI, which reveals providers’ service levels. This information is married up with a financial database which lists the products suited to the customer. For the first time, people can review a product’s price, features and also the level of service offered by the provider to enable them to make a more informed choice.

MoneyExpert.com aims to demystify the complex world of personal finance, and to help inform customers of the choices available. The service can be found at www.moneyexpert.com

* YouGov interviewed 2,560 GB adults aged 18-plus between February 15th and 19th 2007

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