The UK’s top borrowers and most common trends


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We’re a nation of borrowers. From smaller things like a cup of coffee to more expensive purchases like a home improvement or a car, most of us have borrowed money at some point.

Our research found that 78% have borrowed money from a financial lender or friends and family at some stage. The most common reason for borrowing money from friends and family was to cover unexpected expenses such as home or car repairs (37%), with household bills coming in second (23%). When borrowing from a financial lender, Brits’ top reasons included getting a new car and financing home improvements.

When looking to borrow money, we found that 37% find it more official and safer to borrow from a bank than friends and family. Of the people in the UK that we surveyed, 35% of respondents said they would apply for a loan with a financial lender to purchase a new car, while 34% said they would use the funds to finance home improvements.

The borrowing habits of people vary across the UK. Here, we look at which areas of the UK borrow the most money and the reasons why.



Borrowing trends by region

We’ve broken down the top borrowers by region.

  • London

    Our survey found that London was the region that has borrowed the most, with 83% of respondents having borrowed from a bank or friends and family.

    87% of people in London rely on credit cards, financial lenders or friends and family to help with their finances.

    The main reason Londoners borrow from friends and family is to cover unexpected costs (30%). A significant number would also borrow from those they know to cover private medical expenses (25%).

    Respondents would apply for a loan with a bank or financial lender to finance home improvements (31%) or to cover unexpected costs (28%).


  • East Anglia, South East and West Midlands

    According to our research, the next highest number of people in the UK to have borrowed money from a bank, friends or family were in the South East (82%), the West Midlands (82%), and East Anglia (80%).

    The loan amount that most people from these areas felt comfortable borrowing from a bank ranged from £1,001 to £5,000. The most common reason for taking out a loan across these three regions was to purchase a new car.

    When borrowing money from friends and family, our research found that people mainly use the funds to cover unexpected costs, such as home or car repairs, with the amount they feel most comfortable borrowing ranging from £1 to £250.


Borrowing from friends and family

Borrowing money from friends and family can be appealing, especially since they may not charge interest.

Our survey found that the most common reason why those aged 25 and above would ask to borrow from family and friends would be to cover unexpected costs, such as home or car repairs. Those aged 65 or over were most likely to ask for help paying for smaller items such as coffee, lunch, bus fares, etc., with 26% of this age bracket saying they would ask to borrow money for this.

If you are considering borrowing funds from friends or relatives for bigger ticket items, make sure you read our guide on the golden rules to consider before borrowing money from your family or friends.



Borrowing from financial lenders

We found that 45% looking to borrow will opt for a personal loan from a bank or financial lender, with 37% finding it more official and safe. Having a fixed monthly repayment can provide clarity, and borrowers have peace of mind knowing that they have a written contract in place.

The main reason people aged between 35 and 44 borrow money from a financial lender is to pay for home improvements (34%). Those 45 to 54 are most likely to use the funds to cover the cost of a new car (47%).

It’s important that you establish why you need to borrow money before you take out a loan. You also need to carefully consider how much you can afford to pay back and how interest rates will work. For more information, visit our guide to borrowing responsibility.


Borrowing from Shawbrook Bank

​Borrowing is a big consideration and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. When looking to borrow, our research showed that the main thing people look for is good interest rates (54%), but bear in mind the rate that’s advertised may not be the rate you’ll end up getting. It’s really important to do your research and, if you can, opt for lenders that offer a quote or use soft search so that you can be certain of the rate you’ll get right from the start.

Respondents also said the following particulars are important when borrowing from a bank:

  • Clear terms and conditions (37%)
  • Ease and convenience (28%)
  • Good customer reviews (15%)

At Shawbrook, we believe in being transparent with everyone who applies for a personal loan. When you apply for a quote with us, we’ll let you know your guaranteed, personalised rate right from the start. With no impact on your credit score, you can shop around and decide if it’s right for you before you apply for a loan with us. For more information, visit our personal loans homepage.



All loans are subject to status. Terms and conditions apply.


All stats used are from our consumer research survey of 2,000 UK adults, carried out by OnePoll in February 2022