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Consumer lending falls as personal finances feel the squeeze

Paying with British currencyWhile loans to British consumers have seen another month of growth, credit expansion has dipped to its slowest pace since 2015, latest Bank of England figures show.

Unsecured lending growth dipped from 7.4 per cent in October to 7.1 per cent in November, suggesting a pre-Brexit brake on the economy could come to frution.

The last time the increase in lending was this low was in March 2015, nearly four years ago.

Retailers over Christmas have reported tighter consumer budgets, facing the twin headwinds of the move to online shopping and the continued possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Reuters reports that mortgages approvals also fell from 66,709 to 63,728, lower that the predictions made by all of the economists the newswire polled.

However, Debt charity StepChange warns that while credit growth is slowing, we should not lose sight of continued indebtedness in many consumers’ personal finances.

Chief executive Phil Andrew says: “Consumer credit growth may be relatively modest in percentage terms, but let’s not lose sight of the fact that in cash terms outstanding credit card borrowing still rose by £400m compared with just a month earlier.

“In 2018, the Financial Conduct Authority announced a number of welcome measures designed to help address the unsustainable use of credit, including persistent credit card debt. The continuing growth in lending does suggest that vigilance will continue to be necessary to prevent credit becoming problem debt for households.”

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