Monday 5 December 2016

Household debt at lowest level in 10 years

Published 19/08/2016 | 02:30

The debts of households continue to fall and are now at their lowest level in 10 years. Photo: Stock image
The debts of households continue to fall and are now at their lowest level in 10 years. Photo: Stock image

The debts of households continue to fall and are now at their lowest level in 10 years.

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New figures show that households in this country fell from being the third most indebted in the European Union to the fourth.

The debts work out at just over €31,000 per head, a calculation that includes children.

Irish household debt fell by €1.1bn in the first three months of the year, the Central Bank said.

The improvement in Ireland's ranking in the debt stakes in the first three months of this year was largely due to people paying off mortgages and other loans, as well as increases in disposable income.

Borrowings of households are now at their lowest level since the first quarter of 2006, before the housing and developer boom and bust.

Overall debts of all households fell by €1.1bn to €148.5bn in the first quarter of the year.

This works out on average at €31,216 per head of the population.

Mortgages

Statisticians at the Central Bank said the fall in the debts of households was due to loan repayments of €300m, debt write-downs/write-offs of €300m and €500m of negative reclassifications.

This is thought to mean that debts which had previously been classified as households debts have been moved by banks to be classified as company debt - particularly in the case of business owners.

Overall household debt has fallen for the previous 30 quarters. It is down 27pc from its peak of €204bn in 2008, according to the Central Bank's 'Quarterly Financial Accounts' publication.

This means it has taken eight years for household debt to come down by €50bn.

Debt as a proportion of household income fell from 153pc to 149.4pc.

This means a household that earns income of €50,000 after tax and after social welfare payments will still owe €75,000.

The most indebted country is Denmark, followed by the Netherlands, then Sweden, with Ireland fourth on the list. The UK is the next most indebted.

The Central Bank said the "net worth" of households rose slightly to €132,141 per head.

Net worth is everything you own of significance, or your assets, minus what you owe in debts, or liabilities.

The increase was mainly due to higher property prices.

Economist with KBC Bank Austin Hughes said the average debt per household was now about €86,400.

Average debt per mortgaged household is probably in the region of €190,000, he added.

Irish Independent

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