Household problem debt

Households in the poorest fifth of the population are nearly twice as likely to be behind with bills than those in the next richest fifth and more likely to have problem debt.

File Download data (424 bytes)

Link to source: Family Resources Survey

Problem debt, defined by the Family Resources Survey as being behind with any household bill or credit commitment, is reported by 8% of households. This is much higher among those in the poorest fifth than the rest of the population; 20% of those in the poorest fifth report problem debt, 11% of the second poorest fifth, down to 1% for the richest fifth. The proportion of households with problem debt has decreased slightly in the last decade.

However, it is important to note that this measure of problem debt does not include debt incurred on store cards, mail order payments and informal loans from friends or family. It does include: electricity, gas and other household fuel bills, Council Tax, phone bills, hire purchase, water rates and rent or mortgage payments. From 2012/13, the survey also included other loans, and from 2015/16 credit card or other loan repayments.

File Download data (1.1 KB)

Link to source: Family Resources Survey

The proportion of households reporting having had problem debt decreases steadily as incomes rise, with the largest gap being between the poorest fifth and the second poorest fifth in England, Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland the largest gap is between the second poorest fifth and the middle fifth. An extremely low proportion of households in the richest fifth experience problem debt.

Problem debt is defined by the Family Resources Survey as being behind with any household bill or credit commitment. It is important to note that this measure of problem debt does not include debt incurred on store cards, mail order payments and informal loans from friends or family, rent, mortgage, loan payments and credit card or other loan repayments