Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland personal debt highest in UK: report

FCA chief: Andrew Bailey
FCA chief: Andrew Bailey
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

People in Northern Ireland owe an average of almost £4,000 in unsecured debt, according to a new report.

Research published by the Financial Services Authority yesterday found that when mortgages are excluded, personal debt is higher here than any other region of the UK.

People in Northern Ireland have the highest levels of over-indebtedness across the UK (20%) compared with a UK average of 15%.

On average, adults owe £3,990 in unsecured debt, the highest owed by adults in any part of the UK,

The FCA's Financial Lives survey is based on circumstances of 13,000 adults.

It also found that we have the UK's lowest proportion of savers. Around two-thirds of people (67%) admitted they had either no cash savings at all or less than £5,000.

The survey also indicated that one in four adults (24%) here feels they have low financial capability, compared with the UK average of 17%.

The number of people who consider themselves confident and savvy consumers is also well below the UK average.

Only 10% of those surveyed here consider themselves highly knowledgeable in financial matters, compared with 16% across the UK.

Other key findings showed that more adults in Northern Ireland borrow using catalogue and store card credit than any other UK region.

One in 10 adults uses catalogue credit, compared with just 5% across the UK, and 8% use store cards, compared with just 3% in the UK.

Some 78% of adults in the province have no investments whatsoever, and only 20% of those surveyed have motor breakdown cover.

FCA chief executive Andrew Bailey said: 'This survey shows just how different the experience of financial services is for consumers across the country.

"That's important for us, as we shape financial services policy. But it is also important for firms, as they decide how best to serve their customers."

Belfast Telegraph