Areas with highest loan debts revealed in new study

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PEOPLE living in parts of Leeds, Southampton and Peterborough have the highest levels of personal loan debt in Britain, according to figures from lenders.

Leeds’ LS17 0 postcode area includes some of the most affluent areas of the city, like Alwoodley, Harewood, Shadwell, Moortown and Bardsey, but also the less affluent Moor Allerton.

The average personal loan debt in the area was £1,375 last year - placing the postcode sixth on a list which compiled data from the personal loan market and mortgage lenders, published by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

People living in the Southampton postcode area of SO32 3 have £1,880 worth of personal loan debt per head, the highest level in Britain according to the data.

The report cautioned that the borrowing levels shown are not an indication of the “financial health” of borrowers. Areas of Britain that are mainly industrial are unlikely to see high levels of personal loans, it said. Nor do the figures indicate current demand for loans as they are made up of borrowing agreements which have been made in the past as well as debt which has been taken out more recently.

The figures, which cover around 9,000 postcodes, also showed that the total outstanding mortgage debt in south west London alone is at similar levels to that for the whole of Wales.

In total, Britain had £902 billion-worth of outstanding mortgage debt that was held at the end of last year, and almost £232 billion of it was held in London.

The report also covered lending to small and medium-sized businesses, by combining data from banks with that provided by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. It said this shows that regions outside London and the South East receive a higher proportion of SME lending than their share of SME turnover.

BBA chief economist Richard Woolhouse said: “It’s vital for economic growth and investment that there is a good balance of lending everywhere. These figures show that this is happening.

“However, these numbers are complex and it remains very difficult to draw firm conclusions.”