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In National Accounts terms, personal debt is the level of total financial liabilities of the combined household and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) sectors.


Family Resources Survey Reports (Northern Ireland)
Department: Social Development (Northern Ireland)
Information collected from the Family Resources Survey.
Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) outcome statistics
Department: Business, Innovation and Skills
Presents statistics on IVA outcomes - completions, failures and ongoing cases - since their introduction in England and Wales
Regional insolvency statistics
Department: Business, Innovation and Skills
Annual statistics for bankruptcies and individual voluntary arrangements in England and Wales down to local authority level
Wealth in Great Britain Wave 3
Department: Office for National Statistics
Main results from the Wealth and Assets Survey incorporating results from the third wave of the survey.

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The total financial balance sheet liabilities of the combined household and non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH) sector are used as a measure of personal debt.

Total financial liabilities include:

  • money market instruments

  • bonds

  • sterling loans by UK monetary financial institutions

  • foreign currency loans by  UK monetary financial institutions

  • sterling loans by building societies

  • loans by Rest of the World monetary financial institutions

  • loans secured on dwellings by UK banks

  • loans secured on dwellings by building societies

  • loans secured on dwellings by other financial institutions

  • other long-term loans by UK residents

  • trade credits

  • other accounts receivable/payable

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Technical Data

The household sector covers:

‘individuals or groups of individuals as consumers and possibly also as entrepreneurs producing market goods and non-financial and financial services (market producers) provided that, in the latter case, the corresponding activities are not those of separate entities treated as quasi-corporations. It also includes individuals or groups of individuals as producers of goods and non-financial services for exclusively own final use’
[ESA 1995 paragraph 2.75]

The NPISH sector consists:

 ‘non-profit institutions which are separate legal entities, which serve households and which are private other non-market producers. Their principle resources, apart from those derived from occasional sales, are derived from voluntary contributions in cash or in kind from households in the capacity as consumers, from payments made by general governments and from property income.’
[ESA 1995 paragraph 2.87]

The full ESA95 document can be found on the CIRCA website.

The NPISH sector covers all such units that have independent legal status (apart from those controlled and financed mainly by government). Three broad types of NPISH can be identified:

  • academic establishments, principally universities (including their colleges), the Open University, higher education and further education colleges

  • associations that provide benefit primarily for their members and are financed mainly by subscriptions, including professional and learned societies, trade unions, churches and religious societies

  • bodies that serve the interests of people other than their members, including charities and similar relief and aid organisations financed by donations from the public, government and business

The financial balance sheets show the value of the financial assets owned, and of financial liabilities outstanding, at a particular point in time.

The aim of the balance sheets is to give a picture of the assets, liabilities and net financial worth of institutional units at the start and end of the accounting period.

In general, the balance sheets are at current market value, so the changes they show from one time to another are not necessarily the same as transactions in the same interval. 

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  • Long-term loans secured on dwellings

    Loans secured on dwellings, comprise loans made by UK banks, building societies and other lenders, mainly for house purchase and home improvements. It is assumed that all these loans are made to the household sector.

  • Long-term securities issued by other UK residents

    This category includes bonds issued by UK financial corporations and private non-financial corporations and others, together with UK corporate quoted and unquoted preference shares. They also contain Eurobonds, medium-term notes, debentures and loan stock and preference shares issued by UK private sector corporations, as well as issues by NPISH. For households and NPISH, the liabilities consist of Eurobonds and DALs.


    Non-profit institutions serving households.

  • Other accounts receivable/payable

    This comprises trade credits and advances and other items receivable/payable. They are valued for both creditors and debtors at the amount the debtors are contractually obliged to pay the creditors when the obligation is extinguished.

  • Other long-term loans by UK residents

    This comprises of loans by other sectors of the UK economy, non-financial corporations (including credit extended by retailers); insurance corporations, pension funds and other non-monetary institutions of the economy; central government and local government.

  • Short-term loans by Rest of the World monetary financial institutions

    These comprise of loans in both sterling and foreign currency by monetary financial institutions in the Rest of the World. For the household sector, data are sourced from the Bank of International Settlements (where an apportionment of total is applied for the household sector) and from the Bank of England.

  • Short-term securities other than shares issued by other UK residents

    This comprises of the following: UK corporate commercial paper issued by non-monetary financial institutions and UK local authority bills. Household and NPISH liabilities are short-term instruments with local government.

  • Short-term sterling loans by UK banks

    This comprises of banks domestic currency (such as sterling) loans. It represents lending by banks through advances, credit card lending, other loans, commercial bills and some other paper and also claims under sale and repurchase agreements of British Government Securities and other paper, but excluding investment in securities.

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Contact Details

For statistical enquiries about this topic, please contact:

Household Sector Accounts team

Email: saving.ratio@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: +44 (0) 1633 455181

Office for National Statistics Government Buildings Cardiff Road Newport NP10 8XG

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