Borrowing on the likes of credit cards and overdrafts will rise by £5,000 a household in the next five years, according to Labour analysis that the party says shows the fragility of national economic health.
Analysis of statistics in the November economic outlook produced by the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility shows that unsecured debt, also covering many car loans, is forecast to rise £154bn by 2028, the party said.
This would be an increase from 29.1% of disposable income in 2022 to 38.6%, amounting to an average of £5,445 for each household.
Such an increase in this type of debt, which covers any money owed that is not tied to an asset, also covering unpaid utility bills, is seen as an indicator of stretched personal finances, with a potential knock-on effect for spending and growth, particularly in the longer term.
In a report this month, the New Economics Foundation said that by the end of the current parliament next year, 30 million people in the UK would be unable to afford what the public considers to be a decent standard of living, a result of rising prices, below-inflation increases in earnings and increases in unemployment.
Darren Jones, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “When people are spending more of their income to service debt, it damages their quality of life, limits their potential and takes more money out of our local economies.
“Rishi Sunak promised to cut debt, but the national debt has hit record levels, surpassing £2tn for the first time ever. Under the last Labour government disposable income rose by more than 40%, or £11,000 per person, and Labour has a plan to keep more money in working families’ pockets.”
Answering questions from senior MPs on parliament’s liaison committee on Tuesday, Rishi Sunak declined to say if he stood by an earlier prediction he had made that food bank use would start falling by the time of the next election.
Asked separately if he ever lay awake at night “worrying about the level of economic inequality in our country”, Sunak replied, “No,” arguing that progress was being made.
A government spokesperson said: “Inflation falling to its lowest level in two years offers some relief to families ahead of Christmas but prices are still rising too quickly, which is why we have put in place one of the largest cost of living support packages anywhere in Europe worth on average £3,700 per household.
“We are also supporting low paid workers with a record increase in the national living wage and cutting taxes so that people can keep more of what they earn as well as investing £90m to fund free debt advice in England.”