An increasing number of young Britons are looking for an "easy" way out of debt problems, figures released this week have indicated.
In research carried out by Mintel, about one in five (22 per cent) of those aged between 18 and 34 claim that they would consider becoming bankrupt or filing for an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA) if they developed unmanageable difficulties in paying off loans and credit cards. Overall, a total of three million young consumers are said to be prepared for such options to reduce their levels of debt and are more willing than their elders, as 11 per cent of those over the age of 55 are reported to be ready to take on insolvency.
Commenting on the figures, Todd Davis, senior finance analyst for Mintel, said: "Student loans and the endless stream of credit card offers, overdraft extensions and hire purchase means that there is no longer the stigma of going into debt that there once was. But the fact that it is now more accepted has done little to alleviate the stress of accumulating high amounts of debt."
"Bankruptcy is now widely accepted amongst young adults mainly because it is the natural follow-on from rising debt but also because the government has made the conditions of bankruptcy less painful." Consequently, he purported that the restrictions put in place on people's lives when they file for insolvency are seen as "the lesser of two evils", in comparison to making repayments on high levels of debt.
"Many young adults have clearly adopted an easy-debt lifestyle, fuelled by cheap borrowing costs and willing lenders. But they have not necessarily ever been through the rough part of an economic cycle and have not been required to learn that a little bit of financial prudence can pay dividends. If the economy does start to turn any time soon, they really will feel the sharp end of being in debt," Mr Todd added.
Despite the increased willingness among the young to plump for an IVA or bankruptcy, the market research company still showed these consumers to be concerned about their financial situation. With worries about paying off student loans and trying to buy their first home, some 23 per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 are anxious about debt. However, in a survey of the public as a whole only 17 per cent of Britons are said to have let such difficulties weigh on their mind. Meanwhile, 11 per cent of young adults were revealed to be ignoring how much money they owe, which could see them actually exacerbate their problems with credit.
Findings from the firm also revealed that 18 to 34-year-olds are the most likely to have unsecured debt. With 60 per cent of people in this age group having taken out such borrowing, the typical young person is said to have more than 3,200 pounds via this type of credit - a figure which is quadruple that for the over-55s and 40 per cent above the average for adults. A quarter of those aged 24 and under claimed that they were borrowing money to pay for things which they didn't really need, with borrowers between 25 and 34 choosing to get money to help purchase a house.
Meanwhile, younger borrowers were also shown to have higher levels of secured loan debt. Due to rising property prices, such consumers were revealed to have a mortgage some 20,000 pounds above the national average, as they face costs of 111,500 pounds, in comparison to the typical figure of about 92,000 pounds.
Last month, Duncan Philp, a senior consultant for Macbeth Currie, reported that Britons are becoming less concerned about insolvency. He claimed that a rising number of young people are happy to file for bankruptcy should they begin to struggle uncontrollably with their finances, with some viewing doing so as "a badge on their collar".
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