Millions of British families don't have enough savings to cover one month's rent or mortgage
A man who says his life was ruined by an illegal loan shark has issued a stark warning to others who may be struggling with Christmas debt.
How would the Government be seen to perform if it judged itself by the same standards at the business world?
Personal debt in Britain has reached £1.4 trillion, according to a report by an influential think tank.
According to a study by the Centre for Social Justice, around 3.9 million British families do not have enough savings to cover their rent or mortgage for more than a month.
More than 26,000 UK households were accepted by councils as homeless in the last five years because of rent and mortgage arrears, including more than 5,000 last year, the think-tank said.
Its report, Maxed Out, said poor people were bearing the brunt of a "perfect storm" of rising living costs, falling real wages, low savings and expensive credit that has seen unsecured consumer debt almost triple in the last 20 years, reaching nearly £160 billion.
Public sector net borrowing fell to £15.1 billion in March, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.
This was down £1.6 billion from March 2012 when net borrowing stood at £16.7 billion.
If you have borrowed from an unlicensed lender or 'loan shark' you have not broken the law, they have. Here are some sources of advice:
- 24/7 confidential advice - 0300 555 2222
- Text ‘loan shark and your message’ to 60003
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Send a Facebook message to www.facebook.com/stoploansharks
Unlicensed lenders - often called 'loan sharks' - operate illegal money lending businesses without a licence from the Office of Fair Trading. Here are some clues for identifying them:
- Rarely offers paperwork to keep borrowers unsure of how much they owe
- Charge extortionate rates of interest (rates of 131,000% APR have been seen)
- Add additional amounts to the debt so borrowers struggle to repay
- Take items such as passports of bank cards as security
- Employ extreme methods to reclaim their debts, including violence and intimidation
Source: England Illegal Money Lending Team
President Barack Obama has he would be willing to take over authority for raising the borrowing limit, saying the the US is "not a deadbeat nation".
Obama was asked at a news conference about differences he is having with congressional Republicans over raising the $16.4 trillion debt ceiling that the country is expected to hit as soon as the middle of next month.
"This is about paying your bills," he said. "We've got to stop lurching from crisis to crisis to crisis."
– Treasury statement
The economy is healing, but it still faces many challenges. These numbers illustrate that, but also show the Government's plans to bring spending under control are on track for the year.
In October Government spending continued to outstrip the amount of money it received in tax:
- Total tax receipts were 1.8% higher at £47.5 billion, but total expenditure rose 7.4% to £52.8 billion
- Tax revenues were dragged down by a drop in corporation tax, which fell 9.5% to £8.1 billion
- Spending on social benefits, such as state pensions, jumped 7.7% to £16 billion
- Public sector net debt now stands at £1.1 trillion