Brits 'taking careful approach towards debt'

The majority of people in the UK are being very cautious when it comes to taking on debt, new figures from the British Bankers' Association (BBA) appear to suggest.

The BBA said that demand for both unsecured credit (such as personal loans and credit cards) and mortgages remained weak in March. And although credit card borrowing increased slightly, people repaid even more.

BBA statistics director, David Dooks, said: "The high street banks are currently providing nearly £1.5 trillion of credit to UK businesses and households and they continue to lend. However, in response to the economic climate, larger companies are raising funds from bonds and SMEs are paying back more than the new borrowing they are taking. Deposits held on accounts are also higher than loans outstanding.

"All of this means that, while banks have funds to lend, demand for business credit is low. The high street banks are also helping individual customers by providing £768 billion for house purchase and £82 billion in unsecured credit - although, as with business, demand is low and people are repaying their borrowing where possible."

An expert at debt management company Gregory Pennington commented: "It's good to see that people are taking debt seriously. In the current climate it's a good idea to think very carefully about any money you borrow, and these figures suggest that's what most of us are doing.

"Of course, an affordable debt could become unaffordable very quickly if your circumstances change, and a lot of people find themselves unexpectedly struggling. Anyone in that position should not hesitate to seek expert debt advice."

Joel Stanier

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