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Public Works is UNISON Scotland's campaign for jobs, services, fair taxation and the Living Wage. This blog will provide news and analysis on the delivery of public services in Scotland. We welcome comments and if you would like to contribute to this blog, please contact Dave Watson d.watson@unison.co.uk. For other information on what's happening in UNISON Scotland please visit our website.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Next June before workers pay off Xmas debts

It will take average-income families until next June to pay off their Christmas debts, according to new analysis published by the TUC. This analysis shows how falling real wages and lower household savings will make it harder for borrowers to repay their credit cards and loans in 2014.

Last Christmas, one in six families borrowed money to pay for food, drinks and presents, with households borrowing an average of £654 per adult (Men £1,000, women £547). Using average weekly earnings and savings data the TUC estimated that it took average-income earners 20 weeks to pay off this debt. This year, consumer debt has increased by 4.9 per cent. The TUC estimates this will lead to average debts of £685 per adult this Christmas. With real wages and savings lower than last year the TUC calculates it will therefore take 24 weeks for an average-income earner to pay back this money.

However, if a minimum wage worker were to borrow this sum it would take them an entire year working full-time to pay it off. Research published by Consumer Intelligence in October showed that nearly half of all families who borrowed during last year’s festive season still haven’t finished repaying this money.

The TUC says the findings underline once again how ordinary people are not benefiting from the recovery and are instead facing a bigger struggle to pay off their debts. British workers are currently suffering the longest real-wage squeeze since the 1870s, with inflation rising faster than wages for the last 42 months. With real wage growth forecast to be weak for the next four years as set out by the OBR - governments in Scotland and UK need to prioritise wage growth. 

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