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Last Updated: Friday, 2 January, 2004, 11:29 GMT
Record spending on credit cards
Credit cards
Britons currently owe a total of 52.92bn on their credit cards
Shoppers spent a record 11.56bn ($20.6bn) on their credit cards in November, official figures show.

Despite a rise in UK interest rates in the same month, the figure was well up on November 2002's total of 10.14bn.

The UK's increased dependency on credit cards has led to increased conern over personal bankruptcies.

Separately, Bank of England figures reveal that new mortgage lending fell to 8.6bn in November.

That is a decline from 9.5bn the month before, confirming suspicions that Britain's housing market is on course to slow down during 2004.

Rates to rise?

Consumers now owe a collective total of 52.92bn on credit cards.

The UK central bank raised interest rates by a quarter-point in November - from a 48-year low of 3.5% - largely because it was concerned that debt and house prices were rising too fast.

The combination of rising debts and rising interest rates has led some experts to warn that personal bankruptcies will also rise.

However, the latest figures show that, while borrowing is still on the rise, more repayments were also being made.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee is due to hold its first interest rate meeting of the year next week, but is widely expected to leave borrowing costs unchanged.

However, many analysts believe a further rise in the cost of borrowing is likely, possibly as early as February.

The BBC's Jenny Scott
We are still well and truly addicted to debt"

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