Today I read a great piece from Simon Read of the Independent, calling for the wider availability of financial advice. I posted a comment as follows:


Great piece! More strength to your pen! I absolutely support your call for wider availability of quality financial advice; ten years ago I narrowly avoided personal bankruptcy and found a better solution with the help of two excellent advisers at the local CAB; but not everyone is as lucky and I know what the queues are like at the CAB in Bristol.

Have RTed your tweet.

I too quoted Mr Micawber in a book about my debt experiences (“Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”). The version of Micawber I used was worded slightly differently from yours, in that mine was income / expenditure, ending: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds, ought and six, result misery.”

The debt-to-income comparison you mention is interesting. I found some alarming debt / income ratios in the Times a year or so back, which I interpreted in my book as follows:

As Credit Action’s website succinctly puts it: “Individuals owe more than what the whole country produces in a year.”

The trend of increasing personal indebtedness, a by-product of our consumer culture, certainly contributed to the financial crisis.

In early 2010, a typical UK household containing one wage-earner on average pay has, according to the Halifax (a division of the Bank of Scotland plc), outstanding mortgage debt that’s equivalent to 507% of income (i.e. of the ONS figure for average annual income). By way of comparison, the UK Government’s ratio of debt to income – a ratio that was widely castigated as unsustainable during the election campaign of spring 2010 – was “only” 170%. (“Worried about national debt? Mr & Mrs Average are in a far worse state”: Ian King, Deputy Business Editor, The Times, 19 Feb 2010) Go figure, as my American friends might say.

Most personal debt is of course, at least in the UK, secured mortgage debt: levels of home ownership have traditionally been higher here than in most other European countries. It has always been considered that mortgage debt is safe debt; that was true for as long as the housing market continued its customary rise but at times of recession in the housing market …. Etc, etc

One could also add the risk of rate increases leading to a rise in the numbers of mortgages in arrears, repossession or forbearance … a number that’s already high, as you mention.



To see Simon Read’s original piece (The Independent, 16 July 2011):

To sample or purchase (£0.70 / $0.99) my eBook on managing debt: