UK adults are hiding a collective £69.6bn of secret debt from their partners, survey finds

Average hidden debt is more than £8,000 according to poll

Ben Chapman
Wednesday 04 July 2018 00:24
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Approximately 2.6 million people have hidden personal loan debt
Approximately 2.6 million people have hidden personal loan debt

UK adults are hiding more than £69bn of debt from their partners, with 8.3 million people having debts their other half knows nothing about, according to new research.

The average hidden debt in the UK is £8,293, and almost half a million people wouldn’t have started a relationship with their current partner if they had been aware of their financial position, a survey found.

According to the figures, credit cards account for the largest number of hidden debts, with around 5.6 million people owing an average of £2,109.

Approximately 2.6 million people have hidden personal loan debt, with the average total standing at £5,011, and we owe a total of £15.6bn to friends and family – more than £8,000 each. Car payments, child support and store cards were among other sources of secret debt highlighted.

The survey, carried out by polling company Opinium for Direct Line Life Insurance, highlights the strength of the aversion many people have towards discussing their finances, even with a partner.

Among married people polled, 61 per cent said they would rather discuss their political beliefs than their financial situation, while 30 per cent admitted they would be more willing to talk about their “discriminatory views”.

Married respondents who had hidden debts were twice as likely as others to not disclose their borrowing to avoid arguments, with 30 per cent saying they didn’t think it was any of their partner’s business.

Jane Morgan, business manager at Direct Line, said: “A conversation about your finances can be awkward and if you’ve got debt even somewhat distressing, but it’s important to ensure your partner is aware of your financial position, especially if you live together or are married, as they could be liable for any outstanding debts.

“Given so many people are hiding debts from their nearest and dearest, we’d suggest having these discussions as early as possible to make sure you are prepared.”

The figures come days after the Bank of England warned that the high level of household debt poses a risk to the UK’s financial stability.

Household debt is “quite high” by historical standards, BoE deputy governor John Cunliffe told the BBC.

“But within that there are areas that you do worry about. You worry about households that have high debt and could be badly affected in a recession,” he said.

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