London, 24 June 2024

New data from CRIF - Europe’s leading provider of consumer and business credit information – reveals there are significant generational divides when it comes to deciding who is responsible for preventing individuals from falling into a debt spiral.

In the UK, those aged between 18-34 are overwhelmingly less likely than those aged over 55 (51% vs 88%) to believe the individual should be held accountable for avoiding unmanageable debt.

By contrast, 18-34 year olds are more than twice as likely as over 55s to hold the government (25% vs 12%) responsible, while they also see more onus on family (26% vs 19%) and friends (16% vs 2%) than their older counterparts.

Recent years have seen numerous government financial support packages in the UK, such as the furlough scheme during the pandemic, and the recent Energy Bills Discount Scheme to help people with rising energy costs and which ended in March 2024.

Given the widespread use of these packages, particularly among young people with furlough used by 30% of under 24s*, it’s unsurprising that many have come to expect financial support from government. But with many support packages ending, the onus is on banks and lenders to support people with their financial concerns. In fact, half (50%) of all people in the UK put the onus on banks and lenders in preventing unmanageable debt.

The data – which was released as part of CRIF’s Banking on Banks 2024 report series – also shows differences in opinions between consumers in Europe and the USA.

While seven in ten (70%) French consumers say that banks and lenders should be held accountable. Across the pond just a third (32%) of Americans say the same, indicating potential cultural and regulatory differences influencing consumer expectations when it comes to credit and lending.

Interestingly, British consumers (14%) put the least amount of responsibility on the family when compared to other European countries (24% for Italy, 20% for Germany, 20% for France, 16% for Austria) and the USA (25%).

Sara Costantini, Regional Director for the UK & Ireland, CRIF, said: “Our research underscores significant generational and cultural divides in perceptions of debt responsibility. Against an uncertain economic backdrop which started with the pandemic and now continues with the cost of living crisis, many young people have become accustomed to financial support from other sources like the government. With government schemes having come to an end, however, banks and lenders can fill the gap and ensure they offer their customers the support they need as the UK’s economic challenges continue.”
Leonardo Piva, Corporate Business Development Senior Director, CRIF, said: “The perspectives of consumers showcased in our report highlight how important it is for banks to meet the ever-evolving requirements of their customers. With half the people putting the onus on banks and lenders, it’s clear that financial institutions need to do more to support their customers from falling into a debt spiral. One of the solutions lenders can add to their arsenal is open banking, which can provide them with a greater insight into someone’s financial situation and ability to afford credit.”