The amount of outstanding consumer credit passed to debt collection agencies has surpassed £60 billion for the first time, according to the Credit Services Association.
The figures come from the latest quarterly statistics for the body, for the three months ending in June 2012.
However, closer analysis of the data by the Credit Services Association (CSA), has revealed that the average amount owed per consumer has risen, in addition to the total overall figure.
Approximately £61.4 billion of consumer credit debts were passed to CSA members, the highest amount ever recorded in any quarter. This is equivalent to a year-on-year increase of 18% and 5% higher than the first quarter of 2012, £9.3 and £3 billion respectively.
The average balance owed per consumer rose to £1,189, compared to just £1,133 in the previous quarter, another new record for the CSA. This trend is similar to that already noted in the US, specifically by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The amount of money collected by debt agencies from individuals has also risen, reaching £472.4 million, an increase of £88 million or 23%, compared to the same period in 2011.
The president of the CSA, Sara de Tute, suggested that new patterns of debtors could be responsible for the rise in the figures.
Ms de Tute described a typical portfolio held by a collection agency as usually being a number of small debts, such as mail order companies, utility bills or mobile phone balances. But she said that the rise could be due to larger debts from more affluent groups of people, being passed for collection. Miss de Tute said ‘middle England’ was increasingly falling into debt, according to both analysis of the figures, as well as comments received from CSA members.