The Trades Union Congress (TUC) had warned households are facing a “debt timebomb” with credit card and loan bills set to rise by £1,400 on average in 2024. The trade union body has said that next year will see 11% real-terms rise in unsecured debt with household debt hitting record levels in 2026.
TUC: a ‘debt timebomb’ over the next five years
The warning comes as new analysis from the TUC reveals that unsecured debt (loans credit cards, purchase hire agreements) is set to increase by £1,400 in real terms next year, on average, per household.
The analysis of official statistics shows that in 2024 household unsecured debt is forecast to rise by 11%.
And over the course of the next parliament unsecured debt is set to rocket by £6,000 (43%), on average, per family.
The union body warned that unsecured debt per UK household is on course to reach a record level of £17,200 by 2026 – exceeding the previous high of £16,800 set in 2007.
By 2028 unsecured debt per household is set to top £19,000.
Unsecured debt includes credit cards, loans and purchase hire agreements, and excludes mortgages. The TUC excluded student loans from the analysis.
Families left exposed
The TUC says working people have been left brutally exposed to rising costs after years of pay stagnation.
UK workers are on course for two decades of lost living standards with real wages not forecast to recover to their 2008 level until 2028.
The TUC estimates that the average worker would now be £14,800 better off if their pay had kept up with pre-crisis real wage growth trends since 2008.
The union body says the sharp spike in debt, along with stagnant living standards, will “more than wipe out” any gains from the chancellor’s cut to national insurance tax and leave many families “under the cosh”.
The Office for Budget Responsibility says the period between 2021 and 2024 will be the worst for living standards (real household disposable income per person) since records began in 1955.
Nowak: we’ cannot afford the Tories’
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak has warned that Britain “cannot afford the Tories” in his annual New Year Message on Friday 29 December.
Calling for an early general election, Nowak said:
Every month the Tories stay in office the more families will be pushed into debt.
This party of out-of-touch millionaires is more focussed on clinging to power than on growing our economy and getting living standards rising again.
If something doesn’t change, real wages won’t recover to their 2008 levels until 2028.
These 13 years of economic stagnation have left working people brutally exposed to the cost of living crisis.
We cannot afford a Tory government for one day longer.
‘We won’t be intimidated by the Tories’
Highlighting the TUC’s ongoing campaign against the government’s new anti-strike laws, Nowak said:
Nobody withdraws their labour lightly. It is the last resort when employers refuse to talk and refuse to compromise.
The action taken by union members [in 2023] forced bosses across the country back to the negotiating table and secured better deals.
Unions will do everything in our power to defend that right to strike. It is a cornerstone of our democracy.
We won’t be intimidated by this government, and we won’t be bullied.
The Tories’ Strikes Act is toxic, unworkable, undemocratic and likely illegal. And it’s a brazen attempt to try stop working people winning better pay and conditions.
The entire trade union movement will rally behind any worker who is sacked for exercising their right to strike.
Featured image via s_kawee – Envato Elements