The Bank of England has published its latest monthly Money and Credit report, showing consumer credit grew by £1.7 billion in May, the highest amount since last November and higher than the six-month average of £1.5 billion.  The annual rate of growth in consumer credit remained at 10.3% in the year to May.

The figures show credit card borrowing slowed to £0.4 billion from £0.6 billion the previous month, with growth in other loans and advances accelerating from £0.9 billion to £1.3 billion.  The figures come in the same week the Bank of England announced action to curb lending in its Financial Stability Report.

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, said “Consumer credit is continuing its relentless growth, and these figures show that the Bank of England was right to act this week to curb the huge growth in household borrowing we are seeing.

“While most households can cope with this extra borrowing at the moment, the risk is that many people could find themselves exposed to financial difficulty should their circumstances change.In these uncertain economic times, households should be cautious about taking on extra borrowing – and consider how they would be able to cope with their repayments in the event of a shock to their income.

“We have already seen an eight percent rise in the number of people helped by National Debtline by phone so far this year, and we expect demand for debt advice to continue to increase.”
The statistics also showed that consumer credit increased by 10.3% in the year to May, to £199.7 billion.

Citizens Advice says problems with poor affordability checks in the high-cost credit market remain a key threat to borrowers. Citizens Advice Chief Executive, Gillian Guy, said “Problems with poor credit checks in the high-cost credit market are trapping people with loans they can’t afford. We’ve helped people with over 30,000 high-cost credit problems in the last year, including borrowers who’ve been given expensive rent to own or doorstep loan agreements despite having very little income.”

“High-cost credit lenders must act responsibly to prevent people getting caught in cycles of debt. Turning the Financial Conduct Authority’s current guidance on affordability checks into rules would ensure lenders must carry out thorough checks on borrowers. It would also give the regulator more power to penalise high-cost credit lenders who fail to do this.”