Ten years after the dreaded 2007 credit crunch, the signs of another impending debt crisis have begun to show. Prices are rising nonstop year after year while wages remain the same. Many people have also resulted to loans to survive. Unsecured consumer debt has reached the 2008 levels at over £200 billion and what’s shocking is; it’s rising by over 10% every year. In a nutshell, the UK is back to where it was before the credit crunch. The only difference is, there are concerns about it early.
Credit rating agency Moody’s and the Bank of England are among the institutions which have raised concerns about the impending debt crisis. The concerns of these institutions are however focused on the risks the current debt situation has on the economy.
The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) has also expressed concerns and appears to do a better job by breaking the problem down at street level. According to the FCA, one in every six people with credit card debt, personal lending as well as car loans is in serious trouble. This translates to approximately 2.2 million people.
A recent TUC report dubbed ”Britain in the Red” highlighted this issue in 2016. According to the report, 3.2 million UK households were experiencing debt problems with 1.6 million people in serious debt problems i.e. spending over 40% of their monthly income to service debt.
What’s to blame?
The 2007 crash was blamed on reckless spending on luxury as well as household goods. The situation today isn’t much different with the biggest blame falling on cars.
One of the most favourite ways of getting money to spend on luxuries and household goods as a home owner in the past was to remortgage your home. But this only worked for homeowners who had bought homes before the market reached its peak. For those who are buying now, remortgaging isn’t an option. If the interest rates rise by 1%, 18,000 Britons risk going bankrupt according to the Insolvency Service.
The UK is just about to get into another debt crisis because of several factors. One, zero-interest deals are in abundance again. Many people are managing their credit cards by simply transferring debt. According to recent statistics, 43% of all credit card users in the UK have zero-interest deals. This may appear favorable to borrowers on face value, however; it has left many in persistent debt. Lenders love customers who manage to meet their minimum monthly repayment objectives. There are millions of such borrowers in the UK.
Personal loans are also a problem. Before the 2007 crash, the payday loan industry in the UK wasn’t as big. Nevertheless, people had begun depending on payday loans for survival. Statistics indicate that approximately 250,000 people were using short term loans such as payday loans as of December 2006.
The demand for short-term loans is also a problem. The recent payday loan regulations have made it harder for payday loan lenders to exploit vulnerable borrowers. However, the regulation can’t deal with the demand. Today, few people can be able to survive without debt. In 2017, debt is being taken for basic necessities as opposed to luxuries.
The reasons behind this are obvious. Wages have stagnated, yet prices keep rising. After the 2007 debt crisis, households cut off spending on new items. With time, however, spending is inevitable since things become old or get damaged. Most personal loans today are on rent-to-buy deals. Modern necessities i.e. white goods are being acquired more and more this way today.
What’s more is; people don’t save to buy such goods anymore. The low-interest rates have discouraged saving. As a result, fewer households have funds for catering for emergencies, let alone white goods when they are needed.
The biggest problem of them all is Britain’s skewed economy where wages don’t match the cost of living. Although low wages have been a problem for a long time, there were incentives like tax credits before. Today, the welfare state is being used to punish people. Individuals who are dependent are forced into accepting poor pay/conditions as well as debt simply because they don’t have an alternative.
Unsecured loans replaced Government tax credits after the crash.
The effects of this is; the poor will get poorer while the rich get richer. All signs show that the UK is getting into another debt crisis soon, unless something drastic is done to boost wages.
Is the Company Director of Swift Money Limited.
He oversees all day to day operations of the company and actively participates in providing information regarding the payday/short term loan industry.