Research by the Money Advice Service (MAS) has revealed that the average UK adult is concealing £4,164 of debt from their friends and family, which adds up to more than £96 billion of debt in total. 44% of respondents said that they were in some way concealing the extent of their debt from relatives and/or friends.

Research agency Opinium surveyed more than 4,000 adults on behalf of the MAS during October 2018.

More than a quarter of respondents to the survey who were in a relationship (29%) said that their partner was unaware of some of their debt. 5% of this group said that their partner was totally unaware of their debts.

More than half of all respondents (51%) said they wouldn’t want to reveal the extent of their debts for fear of causing their nearest and dearest undue anxiety.

When the survey looked solely at close friends’ knowledge of people’s debt, almost half (47%) said that their close friends are unaware of any of their debts. This figure rises to 50% amongst men.

Almost half of the respondents who had hidden debt (48%) said they were concealing their credit card debt. The equivalent figures for other forms of debt included bank or building society loans (17%), overdrafts (16%), loans from friends and family (12%), store cards (11%) and payday loans (8%).

The MAS conducted the survey for Talk Money Week, a public awareness campaign held in November 2018 designed to improve people’s money management skills and financial wellbeing.

Caroline Siarkiewicz, Head of Debt Advice at the MAS, 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.”

The information shown in this article was correct at the time of publication. Articles are not routinely reviewed and as such are not updated. Please be aware the facts, circumstances or legal position may change after publication of the article