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Which towns have the UK’s biggest debts?

Feb 21, 2011

Living with debt has become as much an accepted part of modern life in the UK as mobile
phones, high house prices and fake tan. All of which might indirectly be contributing to the
piles of debt we have stashed away.

But all is not equal across the country. Debts in one town might be radically different to debts in

Why this is we can only speculate, but figures compiled by have revealed the
UK’s most indebted places. And intriguingly, there seems to be a major North-South divide going on – certainly in the types of debt. Those in the Scotland tend to pile up thousands in loans. Those with the big credit card bills? All in London and the Home Counties!

Worst towns for loan debt

Chester-le-Street, the ancient Durham town, tops the table for loan debts with an average of £3,470 being owed in personal loans. Why this is, who knows? A lot of footballers seem to come from there; eleven, according to Wikipedia. Maybe there are plenty of wannabe WAGs taking loans for cosmetic surgery?

Anyway, three of the towns in the top ten are a bit further south, but then the Scots take over:

• Motherwell (£2,932)
• East Kilbride (£2,851)
• Hamilton (£2,825)
• Falkirk (£2,793)

Why are loans apparently more popular in Scotland than the rest of the UK? Could it be that Scots prefer to carry cash?

If there’s a grain of truth in that, it’s certainly backed up by the plastic-flexing pattern exposed in the South…

Worst towns for credit card debt

Camberley in Surrey, the commuter haven, gets the dubious accolade of having the country’s highest credit card balances, where an average of £2,001 is owed per person.

And the spendthrift pattern continues as the next five names on the list are also Home Counties:

• Bromley (£1,926)
• Bracknell (£1,876)
• St Albans (£1,870)
• Bishops Stortford (£1,853)

Well, salaries might be generally a touch higher in the southeast, but I reckon they’ve gotten a little too used to credit cards. More specifically, stretching them to the limit at Bluewater Shopping Centre.

And is our debt habit getting better or worse?

The recession might have forced many of us to rein in our spending, but data from the Finance and Leasing Association suggests that we are still just as keen to hit the shops. Buy-now-paylater deals and Hire Purchase agreements jumped by a quarter last year as struggling retailers still managed to lure us to the tills.

But a big indicator of higher debts comes at the family level. Having children, the figures say, leads to an increase in debt by more than £7,000 per person on average.

And as the figures above clearly show, although our politicians might be claiming ‘we’re in this together’, the burden of debt across the country is more of a problem for some than for others.

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