Tag: net borrowing

Household borrowing on credit cards and through overdrafts and loans has been growing rapidly. This ‘unsecured’ borrowing is now rising at rates not seen since well before the credit crunch of 2008 (click here for a PowerPoint of the chart below). Should this be a cause for concern?

Household confidence is generally high and, as a result, people continue to take out more loans and so household debt continues to increase. Saving rates are falling and, at 5.1% of household disposable income, are the lowest rate since 2008, mirroring the high levels of spending and borrowing.

But as long as the economy keeps growing and as long as interest rates stay at record low levels, people should be able to continue servicing this rising debt. Indeed, with generous balance transfer offers between credit cards and many people paying off their full balance each month, only 56.6% are paying any interest at all on credit card debt, the lowest level on record.

But there could be trouble ahead! Secured borrowing (i.e. on mortgages) is at record highs as house prices have soared, limiting the amount people have to left to spend, even with ultra low interest rates. Student debt is growing, putting a brake on graduate spending.

With economic growth set to slow and inflation set to rise as the effects of the lower pound filter through into retail prices, this could initially boost borrowing further as people seek to maintain levels of consumption. But then, if unemployment starts to rise and consumer confidence starts to fall, real spending could decline, putting further downward pressure on the economy.

Confidence could then fall further and we could witness a repeat of 2008–9, when people became worried about their levels of borrowing and cut back on consumption in an attempt to claw down their debt. The economy was pushed into recession.

The Bank of England is well aware of this scenario and wants banks to ensure that their customers can afford loans before offering them.


Bank governor Mark Carney warns on household debt BBC News, Brian Milligan (30/11/16)
Credit crunch: Household debt is rising just as the economy’s future is uncertain The Telegraph, Tim Wallace (10/12/16)

Bank of England publication
Financial Stability Report, November 2016 Bank of England (30/11/16)


Money and lending Bank of England Interactive Database
United Kingdom Households Debt To GDP Trading Economics
Household debt OECD Data


  1. What determines the amount people borrow?
  2. What would cause people to cut back on the amount of debt they have?
  3. Distinguish between secured and unsecured borrowing and debt.
  4. Why has secured borrowing risen? Does this matter?
  5. What is meant by the term ‘re-leveraging’? What is its significance in terms of household borrowing?
  6. Find out what the affordability tests are for anyone wanting to take out a mortgage.
  7. What are the greatest risks to UK financial stability?

A keenly awaited Budget, but what should we have expected? Chancellor Alistair Darling had warned that it wouldn’t be a ‘giveaway’ budget. The aim to cut the budget deficit in half over 4 years still remains and the UK economy is certainly not out of the woods yet.

You’ve probably seen the debate amongst politicians and economists over what should happen to government spending and it might be that the lower than expected net borrowing for 2009-2010 provides a much needed boost to the economy. With the election approaching, it seemed likely that some of this unexpected windfall would be spent. The following articles consider some key issues ahead of the 2010 Budget.

Budget 2010: Alistair Darling’s election budget BBC News, Stephanie Flanders (21/3/10)
Build-up to the Budget Deloitte, UK March 2010
Pre-Budget Report: What Alistair Darling has announced before Guardian, Katie Allen (9/12/09)
Budget 2010: Darling warns of ‘no giveaway’ BBC News (11/3/10)
FTSE climbs ahead of UK Budget Financial Times, Neil Dennis (24/3/10)
Bank bonus tax could net Treasury £2bn, E&Y says Telegraph, Angela Monaghan (24/3/10)
Alistair Darling set for stamp duty move BBC News (24/3/10)
Labour has run out of steam, says David Cameron Guardian, Haroon Siddique (24/3/10)
Ten things to look out for in the 2010 Budget Scotsman (24/3/10)
Sammy Wilson predicts ‘neutral budget’ BBC News, Ireland (24/3/10)
Do the right thing, Darling Guardian (24/3/10)
What do we want from the Budget? Daily Politics (23/3/10)
Budget boost for Labour as inflation falls to 3% TimesOnline (24/3/10)


  1. Why has the FTSE climbed ahead of the Budget?
  2. Why is there a possibility of a rise in stamp duty again? To what extent do you think it will be effective?
  3. Net borrowing for 2009/10 is expected to be lower than forecast. What should happen to this so-called ‘windfall’?
  4. What is expected from the Budget 2010? Once the Budget has taken place, think about the extent to which expectations were fulfilled.
  5. Why are excise duties on goods such as taxes and alcohol likely to be more effective than those on other goods?