New research from Direct Line, the insurance company, has highlighted that UK consumers are hiding an enormous £69.6 billion worth of debt from their partners.  The research shows 16% of all consumers in a relationship hide an average debt of £8,292.21 from their partners.  Over 460,000 people have said they would not have started a relationship with their current partner if they had been aware of their financial position.

Jane Morgan, Business Manager at Direct Line Life Insurance, commented: “A conversation about your finances can be awkward and if you’ve got debt even somewhat distressing, but it’s important to ensure your partner is aware of your financial position, especially if you live together or are married, as they could be liable for any outstanding debts.

“Given so many people are hiding debts from their nearest and dearest, we’d suggest having these discussions as early as possible to make sure you are prepared. When considering life insurance, couples can build in mortgage costs, as well as a lump sum or any debts to reduce the financial pressure you could face in the unfortunate event your partner passes away.”

Credit cards account for the largest number of hidden debts, with around 5.6 million of us owing an average £2,109.  Taken all together this amounts to £11.7 billion that partners are unaware of. Other hidden debts could be personal loans with about 2.6 million people unlikely to have told their partners about car payments. About £1.4 million have also hidden outstanding child support payments from their current partners.

Direct line has broken down the research as follows: –

Types of debt for people in UK

Type of debt                                                                            Debtors                 Total debt            Average debt

Credit card                                                                              5.6 million               £11.7 billion             £2,109

Personal loans                                                                        2.6 million              £12.5 billion             £5,011

Car payments                                                                          2.5 million              £6.8 billion              £2,756

Other debts                                                                             2.5 million              £20.3 billion             £8,177

Store card                                                                                2.3 million              £1.3 billion                £571

Money owed to friends and family                                     1.9 million              £15.6 billion              £8,037

Child support                                                                          1.4 million              £1.1billion                 £748

All debts                                                                                   8.4 million             £69.9 billion             £8,293

When people were asked the reasons they did not tell their partners, many claimed they were trying to pay it off so didn’t see a need to tell them.  Others said they did it to avoid arguments, with those in this group more likely to be married and therefore with a partner possibly also liable for the hidden debt. The research showed that those who were married were extremely uncomfortable when it came to discussing their finances with their spouse. 61% of this group said they would rather discuss their political believes than their finances.  One in ten said they didn’t think it was any of their partner’s business.