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Rise in borrowing a sign of the “difficult choices” facing households

The Money Advice Trust responds to latest Money and Credit figures

Posted March 1, 2023

Today’s Bank of England Money and Credit figures show consumer credit grew at 7.5 percent in January 2023, up from 7.2 percent in December 2022. The annual growth rate of credit card borrowing rose from 12.4 percent to 13.5 percent in January, the highest level since October 2005, with outstanding balances for consumer credit now standing at £209.6 billion.

A growing proportion of callers to the charity’s National Debtline service say they are using credit to pay for essentials. Findings from a recent survey of callers to National Debtline:

  • One in three (32 percent) said they had used credit to pay for essential household bills, including food and groceries in the last two years.
  • 17 percent said they had used credit to pay for energy bills in 2022, up from 8 percent in 2021.
  • 11 percent of callers surveyed said they had used credit to pay for council tax in 2022, up from four percent the previous year.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said:

“The rise in consumer credit borrowing is a sign of the mounting pressure on households and the difficult choices many are facing as incomes can’t keep up with rising costs.

“At National Debtline we are hearing from more people having to use credit to cover essential costs, including food, energy and council tax bills. And with the double whammy of energy prices rises and increases in council tax coming in April, for many, the situation is set to get harder.

“Anyone worried about their finances should contact a free debt advice service like National Debtline or Business Debtline as soon as possible.”

National Debtline provides free, independent debt advice at

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