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Household debt in the UK has never been higher as many families are forced to borrow to get the daily essentials, according to a new report. Analysis by the TUC shows that consumer credit and student loans reached a record high of £319bn ($466bn) in the third quarter last year, well above the £290bn it reached in 2008 before the global financial crisis.
Unsecured debt as a share of household income is now 26.5% – the highest it's been for five years.
Earlier this week, the Bank of England published figures showing that household borrowing surged in the run up to Christmas. The monthly cash rise in consumer credit for November 2015 was the highest since February 2008.
Meanwhile the TUC analysis also finds that unsecured debt per household rose to £11,800 in the third quarter of 2015, which is up £600 on a year earlier. On this per household measure, debt has never been higher.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said that rising household debt meant too many people were still struggling to make ends meet. "Although employment has risen, wages are still worth less today than eight years ago," said O'Grady. "This has left families struggling to meet the rising cost of living. We need a recovery where families can afford to pay their bills and raise their children without relying on credit cards and payday loans."
The TUC figures follow the recent forecast by the Office for Budgetary Responsibility that UK household spending was set to be £40bn in deficit for 2015 – the highest on record. The Bank of England's Chief Economist Andy Haldane recently told the Treasury Select Committee that consumer credit is "picking up at a rate of knots".