UK hiding £ of secret debt

Research from GoCompare finds one in 10 are hiding debt from their partner

  • 40% of UK adults will be carrying some form of debt (excluding mortgages) into 2018
  • One in 10 people with debt admit to hiding it from family, friends and partners
  • On average, those with debt owe £6,131
  • 14% don’t know how they will be able to pay back the money they owe


New research* from GoCompare Money has revealed that Brits are hiding a collective £13bn** worth of secret personal debt from their friends, families and even their partners.

The study from the comparison site found that 40% of UK adults had some form of personal debt (excluding mortgages), owing £6,131, on average.

However, despite nearly a third (29%) of those with debt us being concerned about the amount we owe, one in 10 admit to hiding the problem from their loved ones, including their partners – with most (65%) keeping their debt secret for a year or more.

On top of hiding their finances, worryingly, 14% of people said that they didn’t know how they would be able to repay the money they owe.

While some people said they would consider asking family for financial help or talking to a debt charity, such as Stepchange, others would consider taking out a consolidation loan (13%) or even a payday loan (6%) to pay off their existing balances, however these often carry huge interest rates and far from help, would most likely exacerbate their debt problem.

Georgie Frost, consumer advocate at GoCompare said; ““Hiding debt from a loved one should be a warning sign that you’re not managing it properly and you might want to seek help. The first step is to admit it to yourself and then to open up to others. Burying your head in the sand, or hiding it from your loved ones, is likely only going to make your situation worse and the stress of worrying could lead you to make unwise financial decisions.  

“The fear of being judged or of people’s reactions to your situation is understandable but the reality is that many of us have some form of personal debt that we are concerned about. The only way we can tackle this issue as a society is to drop the stiff upper lip mentality and talk about it, and most importantly reach out when we need help.

“Debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it’s managed correctly. For instance, taking out a low interest loan to improve your home and add value to the property, or to buy a car that will allow you to get a new job and earn more money are good examples of how to use credit correctly. Likewise, breaking up a large payment, such as a car insurance premium, by using a 0% purchase credit card can help you manage your finances in a healthy way.

“However, issues arise when people rely on credit to live outside of their means, borrow money that they don’t know how to pay back, or rely on credit as their only form of emergency fund.

“Before making any big decisions like considering high interest consolidation or payday loans, or if you are worried about your debt levels, talk to an organisation such as Stepchange or The Money Charity who will be able to offer free advice and support.

“It’s also worth talking to your existing credit card, mortgage or loan provider, to see if they can offer support in helping you to pay back your debt. In many cases, your provider should be able to offer some form of help if you make them aware of the issue in advance. But there is help out there, you are not alone.”



For further information please contact:

Anders Nilsson or Martyn John at GoCompare on 01633 654 054 / 01633 654 725

Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare

Notes to editors

*On 22 December 2017, Bilendi conducted an online survey among 1,352 randomly selected British adults who are Maximiles UK panelists.  The margin of error-which measures sampling variability-is +/- 2.2%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and regional data to ensure samples representative of the entire adult population of United Kingdom. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

**Source: ONS Overview of UK Population March 2017 - Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - UK adults 18 and over = 50,782,895 in 2015. 39.54% of those surveyed said they had some form of debt - with 10% of those with debt saying they were hiding debt from friend’s family or a partner. The survey found that on average those with debt (excluding student loans and mortgages) had £6,131.20.

About GoCompare

GoCompare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs.

GoCompare does not charge people to use its services, and it does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site.

GoCompare does not sell its customers’ data.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. GoCompare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest, and has teamed up with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover.

GoCompare is the only comparison website to be invited to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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Contact Information

Martyn John

PR & Social Media Manager

01633 654725