Lord Griffiths heads Tory inquiry into UK's £1 trillion debt burden

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The Independent Online

A former director of the Bank of England is to head a formal inquiry set up by the Tories into what the party claims is £1 trillion of debt accumulated by UK households.

A former director of the Bank of England is to head a formal inquiry set up by the Tories into what the party claims is £1 trillion of debt accumulated by UK households.

A Commission on Debt, headed by Lord Griffiths, a former policy adviser to Margaret Thatcher, will look at the "spiral of indebtedness" hitting British families, who now owe money to banks and credit card companies at "unprecedented levels."

Insolvencies in England and Wales have hit their highest since the 1990s and the average adult has a credit card debt of more than £1,100.

The Conservatives will announce the inquiry today, and tomorrow will hold a "debt summit" at Westminster to discuss how to help victims tackle problem levels of debt. They have asked Lord Griffiths, who was head of the Downing Street policy unit in the last five years of Mrs Thatcher's premiership, to gather first-hand evidence of how to help people tackle growing levels of debt, including mortgages, credit cards and personal loans.

Oliver Letwin MP, the Shadow Chancellor, said it would require "wisdom and imagination" to find ways to relieve the debt burden. "This is a serious undertaking with a serious mission. On current trends, household debt will break though the £1 trillion barrier this autumn. For increasing numbers of people, debt is becoming a serious problem," he said.

The Tory debt commission will produce a report by the end of year on the problem of debt, particularly as it affects poorer and more vulnerable people.

Personal debt is growing to unprecedented levels with lending to individuals standing at £956bn. Within five months, on current trends it is expected to break through the £1 trillion barrier. "While there are important benefits created by the consumer credit industry, present levels of debt are leading to serious problems for the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society," Lord Griffiths said.

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