Households net borrowers for first time in 30 years

Households across the UK spent or invested around £900 more on average than they received in income during 2017 - marking the first time in nearly 30 years they had more money going out than coming in.

Thursday, 26th July 2018, 4:24 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th July 2018, 4:29 pm
Households borrowed almost 80bn

The gap amounted to nearly £25 billion - or about a fifth of the annual NHS budget in England - according to an article on the Office for National Statistics (ONS) website.

Household outgoings last outstripped income for a full year in 1988, although the shortfall was much smaller at just £300 million, the ONS said.

The article - titled Making ends meet: are households living beyond their means? - said: “Even in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 - when 100% (and more) mortgages were offered to home buyers without a deposit - the country did not reach a point where the average household was a net borrower.”

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The ONS said that to fund this shortfall, households either have to borrow - at which point they could be living beyond their means - or dip into savings.

It said households took out nearly £80bn in loans last year, the most in a decade.

In total, households accumulated more debt, mainly to loans, than assets - such as deposits, bonds, shares and pensions - in 2017 for the first time since records started in 1987.

“If this were to continue, households could risk lacking enough collateral to cover their debts,” the article warned.