UK debt: Where do people owe the most?

Woman looking worriedPeople in North-West London have the highest long term problem debt balances in the UK, according to figures published by debt collectors 1st Credit.

The firm said that, on average, residents of Southall in North-West London owed 30% more than the national average, with long term problem debts of £3,618. The UK's average balance is £2,759.
The figures do not refer to consumer debt, but rather debt that has remained unpaid and has been sold on to recovery agencies. The company defines long-term problem debt as: "Debt repayments that individuals have defaulted on for a considerable period of time - in most cases this will have been months or even years. Consequently the debt has been sold onto a debt collection agency. The debt can be anything from credit or store cards repayments to repayments on car or home improvement loans."

The top – or should that be bottom – five national postcodes in terms of long term problem debt balances were all found within London suburbs.

In Harrow, average balances were £3,570, in Ilford £3,587, while Croydon saw average balances of £3,472 and in Kingston the figure stood at £3,391.

The different average long-term problem debt balances show a wide variation across the country – in North-West London, balances are more than double those in Northern Ireland.

Bristol – £ 2,806
Edinburgh – £ 2,779
Glasgow – £2,696
Birmingham - £ 2,626
Cardiff - £ 2,522
Manchester - £2,410
Leeds - £ 2,389
Newcastle – £2,356
Liverpool - £ 2,222
Belfast (Northern Ireland) - £1,584

Bob Kingdon of 1st Credit said: "While there are all sorts of reasons why people struggle to repay their debts, failing to gain control of personal finances is a problem faced by people all over the UK. That's why it is so important to understand that the best solution is always to tackle debt head-on.

"The way to do this is to face up to the problem by talking to the company that holds your debt and agreeing a repayment plan that you can manage. An important part of this in our case is that once we own the debt we don't charge additional interest, so from day one you can reduce the amount you owe and are one step closer to your debt-free day."

The famous faces of bankruptcy
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UK debt: Where do people owe the most?

In 1895 at the height of his success following the publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Importance of Being Earnest, Wilde was charged with gross indecency and became embroiled in a libel trial to defend himself against accusations of homosexuality. He lost the battle and was forced into bankruptcy to cover legal costs for himself and the accuser, the Marquis of Queensberry – whose son Wilde was allegedly having an affair with. According to, some of Oscar's most prized possessions, including first editions of his own books, were seized and sold at auction to pay the bill.

In a lesson that personal net worth means nothing against spiraling debts, the King of Pop filed for filed for bankruptcy in 2007 when he couldn't repay a $25 million loan on his home, Neverland Ranch.

Despite being recognised as the most successful entertainer of all time by the Guinness Book of World Records, Neverland became Jackson's downfall – reportedly costing more than $10 million dollars a year to maintain. According to, even after signing a nearly $1 billion recording contract in 1991 and selling more than 750 million records, Jackson had just 0.05% of his net worth in accessible cash, which left bankruptcy the only option.

Actress Kim Basinger filed for bankruptcy in 1993 after she was sued for breach of contract for refusing to appear in film Boxing Helena, which later bombed. The actress lost a $8.1 million lawsuit to Main Line Pictures as a result and was forced to sell her $20 million investment in the town of Braselton, Georgia, USA.

When Mozart died at the early age of only 35 in 1791, he was poverty stricken and left vast amount of debt behind, which totaled over 4,000 florins (the equivalent of more than eight times the annual salary of a middle-class government employee, according to Reports prevail that there was such little money in the house at the time of his death that Mozart was buried in a mass grave, the exact location of which is unknown to this day.

Everyone's favourite crooner filed for bankruptcy in 1976 after the royalties from his next album were promised to his ex-wife as a substitute for maintenance payments. The album was titled "Here, My Dear."

Despite creating one of the best-selling albums of all-time with Bat out of hell, Meat Loaf had to file for bankruptcy in 1983, after a series of bad business deals and legal issues. The rock star fell victim to unscrupulous managers, who he discovered were stealing his money – only for them then to sue him for breach of contract. Just when it looked like his luck was improving ahead of the release of his album Blind Before I Stop – the producer put a dance beat on every track, alienating his rock fanbase, making the album a failure and forcing him into bankruptcy for a second time.

Just when things couldn't get any worse for ex-Atomic Kitten Kerry Katona, she's been made bankrupt twice in five years.

The first was in 2008 after failing to deliver the final £82,000 of a £417,000 tax bill.

She was in the press for money issues again this earlier this year when a a TV advert for pay day loans fronted by Katona was banned for being irresponsible. Cash Lady offers loans of up to £300 a month with an annual percentage rate of 2,760%. "We've all had money troubles at some point, I know I have," says Katona in the TV ad. "You could see your bank and fill in loads of forms, but is there an easier way to get a loan ... it's dead fast too. Fast cash for fast lives."

However, Katona was dropped as the face of a payday lending company after filing for bankruptcy for a second time.

She filed for bankruptcy at Wigan County Court in July 2013, the Insolvency Service confirmed.

Disney's fist animation company Laugh-O-Gram Studio filed for bankruptcy in 1922 when its financial baker went broke. Disney was no longer able to pay his employees or his debts, and according to, even struggled to buy a bus ticket to Hollywood. But he made it and there he made a fresh start with his new self-named production company that remains a worldwide success today.

Despite earning millions during his boxing career, former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2003. He mounted about $27 million in bills, and is said to have squandered nearly $300m in ring earnings through lavish spending and bad advice, according to BBC News. The 37-year-old spent extravagantly on mansions, Bentley cars, jewellery, and even pet Bengal tigers while buying expensive gifts for his large entourage. Also in 2003, Tyson agreed to pay his ex-wife $6.5m from future earnings as part of a divorce settlement.

Drinking, gambling, fast cars and womanizing saw football wonder boy Best squander his cash and succumb to bankruptcy in 1982 with debts of £22,000. According to, at the time of his death in 2006, Best had an outstanding mortgage of £100,000 and owed London's Cromwell hospital £300,000 in treatment fees.


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