Brits are badly in debt - and millions are panicking

Four in ten Brits say they're worried about their debts, with a third saying they're juggling three or more credit cards.

Bank of England figures show total unsecured debt on credit cards, car loans and overdrafts is now £198 billion – the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

And a survey from financial services analysts Consumer Intelligence shows just what this means for families.

Nearly one in six adults rely on credit cards to get through the month, it found, and one in ten are maxed out on at least one card. One in five owe more than £10,000 on top of any mortgage.

One in ten people say they're extremely worried.

"The alarm bells have been ringing all year with the Bank of England warning that personal debt levels have been rising at the fastest rate since 2005," says Ian Hughes, chief executive of Consumer Intelligence.

"It is a major concern when millions of people admit to being worried about how much they owe and so many are relying on credit cards to tide them over each month."

See also: The people who spend more on debts than food

See also: Could you spot debt problems in friends and family?

Debt problems affect higher earners just as much, the study found - around a quarter of adults with a household income of more than £50,000 don't usually clear their credit cards.

Around the UK, the most stressed areas are Northern Ireland and the North East, where most people are worried about their debts. The least worried areas are the East and the South West.

"Borrowing makes sense for many when interest rates are low but it is essential people have a plan to repay their debts, not least to reduce the stress millions are facing," says Hughes.

Percentage of people very worried/quite worried about debt
Northern Ireland: 17%/50%
South East: 15%/27%
East Midlands: 13%/27%
London: 13%/35%
Scotland: 11%/37%
South West: 11%/25%
North West: 10%/37%
West Midlands: 10%/26%
North East: 10%/50%
Wales: 10%/33%
Eastern: 7%/22%
Yorkshire & Humberside: 7%/35%
UK: 11%/31%