Household debt soars to 11-year peak at £1.9bn in November

Credit card lending increased by �558 million over the month
Credit card lending increased by �558 million over the month

Consumers ramped up their non-mortgage borrowing at the fastest rate in over 11 years in the run-up to Christmas, Bank of England figures show.

The Bank recorded a £1.9 billion increase in consumer credit in November, compared with an average monthly increase of £1.6bn over the previous six months.

The increase was the biggest seen since March 2005 and pushed the annual growth rate in borrowing to 10.8% - the highest rate since autumn 2005.

Within consumer credit, credit card lending increased by £558 million in November, in line with the previous six months, while other types of lending, including personal loans and overdrafts, increased by £1.4bn, the highest figure seen since March 2005.

Meanwhile, the number of mortgage approvals being made to home buyers jumped to an eight-month high in November.

Some 67,505 loans were approved for house purchase in November, marking the highest figure seen since March. Some 45,683 loans were also approved for re-mortgaging in November, compared with an average of 42,664 approvals for this purpose over the previous six months.

Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at IHS Global Insight, said consumers’ strong borrowing in November ties in with ongoing robust retail sales.

He said: “The data maintain the impression that a resilient consumer continued to play a leading role in keeping the economy growing at a fair clip in the fourth quarter.”

He said that on one hand, the likely tougher economic conditions for consumers in the coming months may make people more cautious about borrowing.

But he continued: “On the other hand, likely deteriorating fundamentals for consumers over the coming months may increase the need for some people to borrow.”

Lending to non-financial businesses decreased by £767m in November, the Bank’s figures also showed. This compared with an average monthly increase of £1.7bn over the previous six months.

Mr Archer said: “The drop in bank lending to businesses in November fuels concern that businesses will become increasingly cautious in their behaviour, especially investment, over the coming months due to heightened uncertainty as the UK’s Brexit process gets under way.”

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “While confidence is a little uncertain given potential economic headwinds such as the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, cheap mortgage rates are proving attractive and those who have to get on with the job of moving are continuing to do so.