Denton and Reddish MP, Andrew Gwynne, is urging his constituents to back a campaign encouraging people to start opening up about their concerns about money, and other financial concerns.
The MP made the plea after attending an event at the Houses of Parliament hosted by the Money Advice Service, the independent organisation set up by the Government to give people free, unbiased money guidance.
The call comes as new research shows UK adults are hiding more than £96 billion(1) of debt from their friends and family, with the average amount of hidden debt in the UK at £4,164(2) per person.
The findings come from new research by the Money Advice Service for Talk Money Week – a public awareness campaign held this week (from 12th to 18th November), which is designed to improve people’s money management skills and financial wellbeing.
Of those in a relationship, almost a third (29%) say their other half does not know about all the money they owe. And five per cent admit that their partner is completely in the dark about their debts. However, it’s not just our partners we are keeping this secret from. Almost half (47%) say their close friends don’t know they have any debts at all. Men are less likely than women to open up about it. Half (50%) of men admit that their close friends don’t have a clue about their debts, which is seven percentage points higher than women (43%).
The research finds that credit cards account for the largest quantity of hidden debt (48%). Personal loans from a bank or building society (17%), an overdraft (16%), money owed to friends and family (12%) and store cards (11%) follow. Meanwhile, eight per cent of all those with debt hide payday loan debt. Many of those with debt say that they don’t want to burden others with their financial issues. For example, 51 per cent say they would prefer not to talk to their friends and family about it because they don’t want them to worry. Almost a quarter (23%) say they don’t have the confidence to speak to their loved ones about their finances.
In fact, even in our turbulent times, Britons find it easier talking politics with their family than they do dealing with money problems (63% vs 53%). The same can be said for religion, with 62 per cent of Britons saying they find it easier talking about faith than money. Overall, one in five (19%) say they find it difficult talking about money problems and debt with their family.
Andrew Gwynne said:
“This is a campaign that I feel very strongly about. It’s incredibly important that people open up to friends and family about issues with money so they can start dealing with it together.
“I encourage everyone in Tameside and Stockport to start Talking Money this week, and to remember that if you are struggling with debt or money issues, the Money Advice Service offers free, unbiased money guidance online or via free phone.”
Caroline Siarkiewicz, Head of Debt Advice from the Money Advice Service commented:
“Sometimes it can be easier to pretend everything is alright and avoid opening up about our debt problems to escape the tough conversations. Not because we want to cause harm, but because we want to shelter those closest to us from our problems or are concerned about being judged. However, this rarely solves the issue. In fact, it often makes things worse.
“Debt can be a particularly difficult topic to broach, especially if you’ve fallen into a spiral and don’t know how to get out of it. But sharing a problem is the first step to solving it; it’s always better to be open with your loved ones when it comes to money.
“As it’s Talk Money Week, there is no better time to start opening up about your finances. Whether with friends and family or a partner, use this week to talk about your money worries. And remember that free and impartial debt advice is available near you.”
(1) This was calculated using the following information: According to the ONS (2017), there are 52,079,000 adults in the UK. Our research found that 44.27% report hiding debt from their family, partner and friends. In numbers of UK adults, this equates to 23,053,707 and the average debt in the UK is £4,164.40. Therefore, the total amount of hidden debt in the UK is (23,053,707 * £4164.40) £96,004,856,265
(2) The figure to two decimal places is £4,164.40