Some 69% of Brits do not discuss their debt with others, with more than half (53%) admitting they are too embarrassed to talk about it, new research has found.
According to debt management company Lowell, which is supporting Debt Awareness Week starting on 22 March, debt is still a stigma for many people in the UK.
Brits are hiding a total of £8.5m ($11.8m) worth of debt from their family and friends, with around 21 million hidden credit cards, loans and overdrafts. Lowell surveyed 658 of its customers in Feb/March this year.
Embarrassment was the primary reason for hidden debt, followed by 40% of people “feeling like a burden” and 38% saying they didn’t believe others needed to know.
Lowells said the past year had been “a whirlwind of uncertainty for our lifestyles, jobs, and finances. Because of this, it’s never been more important for people to speak up if they are feeling under financial pressure.”
It added that 82% of people who have talked about their debt claimed they felt better about their situation.
WATCH: Should I pay off debt or save money during the coronavirus pandemic?
John Pears, Managing Director of Lowell, said: “Over the last 12 months, many people have found themselves struggling financially, and some may be in debt for the first time. Therefore, Debt Awareness Week is even more important than ever this year.
“There’s no need to feel embarrassed, and having an initial discussion with a friend, family member or expert is the first step to feeling financially stable.”
Debt Awareness week is an annual campaign run by debt charity StepChange to help people talk more openly about debt-related issues.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that record levels of smaller businesses sought external financial support in 2020.
New data by British Business Bank (BBB) found that gross bank lending to SMEs, excluding overdrafts, was up 82% to £104bn, driven by use of government loan schemes, with significant further demand for such loans expected in 2021.
The report also found almost half (45%) of SMEs applied for external financial support in 2020, compared to 13% in 2019, and that nine in ten (89%) businesses did so because of the impact of COVID-19.
Around 75% of these SMEs did so to help with their cashflow.
WATCH: How to save money on a low income