Only owing £14,000? You’re not in trouble yet...

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Britons only see themselves in serious financial difficulty once they are in £14,416 worth of debt, according to a financial safety net report.

While the figure still represents a vast amount, underlining how the attitude to personal debts has spiralled out of control, this level represents an increased consciousness from Britons when it comes to viewing their finances.

In 2010, we did not consider ourselves in serious financial difficulty until we reached £15,837 of debt, some £1,421 more than this year’s figure.

Britons are also becoming increasingly conscious about the impact of rising unemployment.

Two in five of those questioned cited losing their jobs and being unable to find another one as the biggest thing likely to affect their standard of living this year. A rise in the rate of inflation (32 per cent) was seen as having a far more dramatic impact on living standards than a rise in interest rates (15 per cent).

The main factors to affect living standards in 2012

1. Losing your job and being unable to find another one (40%)

2. Getting a serious illness (39%)

3. A rise in the rate of inflation (32%)

4. Partner getting a serious illness (27%)

5. Partner losing their job (25%)

6. None of these (19%)

7. National interest rate increase (15%)

Roger Edwards of Bright Grey, which commissioned the survey, said: “Over the past 12 months, Britons are sitting up and taking greater notice of the wider economic environment.

“People are more wary about getting themselves into serious levels of personal debt, yet over £14,000 is still clearly a cause for concern. As a result, Britons need to keep control of their finances and have contingency plans in place to be able to continue to pay for their essential monthly outgoings.”