Families in Northampton face increasing debt as borrowing increases

The average Northampton household’s borrowing increased by 34% over the last five years, following the national trend of people taking on more new credit card and car financing debt.

The TUC has warned that household debts are at “crisis level”, blaming austerity and slow wage growth for increasing the burden.

UK Finance figures show that the average Northampton household borrowed around £1,710 in unsecured debt between April and June last year, the most recent period for which figures are available.

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The figure, which does not include secured loans such as mortgages, means households borrowed roughly £433 more than during the same three months in 2013.

It means that the area collectively took on an additional £136 million in loans including credit card debt, car finance schemes and bank loans.

However, unsecured borrowing was down 1% compared to the same period in 2017.

Levels of borrowing in Northampton were higher than across the East Midlands in general, where the average household took on £1,431 in unsecured debts between April and June 2018.

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The figures also reveal in the difference in borrowing across Northampton. In the NN4 postcode area, households borrowed an average of £2,033, 39% more than the average £1,463 in NN1.

Across the UK, households borrowed an average of £1,378 in unsecured debts, with those in the South East and London generally taking on more than in other parts of the country.

The average amount borrowed in the last five years has increased by nearly 20%.

The TUC said its own analysis suggested that unsecured debt levels reached new highs in 2018, equivalent to £15,385 per household in the third quarter of the year.

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Unsecured debt as a share of household income is now more than 30%, the highest it has ever been, and above the level it reached in 2008 ahead of the financial crisis, said the TUC.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Household debt is at crisis level. Years of austerity and wage stagnation has pushed millions of families deep into the red.

“The Government is skating on thin ice by relying on household debt to drive growth. A strong economy needs people spending wages, not credit cards and loans.

“Our economy is not working for workers. They need stronger rights and bargaining powers.”