Financial News

  • 23 December 2013, 9:48

Christmas Debts 'Won't Be Cleared Until June'

The average family is going to take on debts this Christmas that will take until June to pay off, it has been claimed.

The Trades Union Congress has carried out research that shows that the typical family will add 685 to its borrowing by the time the festive season is over.

That will take a family on an average income 24 weeks to pay off, the labour organisation claims.

Last Christmas, one in six families borrowed money to pay for food, drinks and presents, with households borrowing an average of 654 per adult (Men 1,000, women 547).

Using average weekly earnings and savings data the TUC estimated that it took average-income earners 20 weeks to pay off this debt.

This year, consumer debt has increased by 4.9 per cent. The TUC's calculations estimate that it will take four more weeks for an average-income earner to pay back the extra debt burden they will take on.

If a minimum wage worker were to borrow the same sum it would take them an entire year working full-time to pay it off.

The TUC says the findings underline how ordinary people are not benefiting from the recovery and are instead facing a bigger struggle to pay off their debts.

The study has emerged on the day when the Bank of England has warned of the scale of the debt burden weighing on British families.

According to the TUC, British workers are currently suffering the longest real-wage squeeze since the 1870s, with inflation rising faster than wages for the last 42 months.

It says the government needs to make fairer pay rewards a priority.

Nicola Smith, head of economic and social affairs at the TUC, told Sky News: "It's to do with the fact that is an expensive time of the year for everybody, and with wages hardly having kept up with prices for the last four years, with family incomes under historic pressure, just meeting the basic costs of Christmas is going to mean a lot more people having to rely on credit."

She said the problem was that most growth in the economy was being provided by consumption and because pay was not keeping up with prices, the extra money people had to spend on buying goods was coming from borrowing.

"People are having to borrow to make up the extra spending that is driving growth in the economy," she said. "It's really worrying that that does not provide us with a sustainable basis for a recovery going forward."

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