Study shows credit challenges ahead

LONDON - Britons could find it increasingly difficult to get credit before Christmas despite a reduction in credit card borrowing in the past year, as lenders tighten their policies, a leading report said.

Consumers will be further tested in the next year as fixed rate mortgage deals come up for renewal, according to Precious Plastic 2008, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study of the consumer credit market released on Monday.

"There are tough times ahead for both consumers and credit card companies. Banks are continuing to take action in response to the rise in consumer debt by tightening their credit acceptance policies," said Richard Thompson, partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

"Many consumers will find it increasingly difficult to obtain credit in the run-up to Christmas."

The report estimated adults now owe an average of 33,000 pounds in total debt, including mortgages, almost double the average of 17,000 pounds in 2000.