About a third of Bulgarians – 34.2 per cent – were in arrears with payments of mortgage, rent, utility bills or hire purchase payments, according to figures for 2016 released on May 29 2018 by EU statistics agency Eurostat.
In 2016, 10.4 per cent of the population in the EU were in arrears with their mortgage, rent or other items, such as utility bills or hire purchase payments, which are typically paid as monthly instalments. In other words, one in 10 people in the EU had such outstanding debts and delayed payments in 2016.
When focusing on arrears for mortgage or rental payments, the proportion stood at 3.5 per cent in the EU. People living in households with dependent children (4.8 per cent) were twice as likely to face this situation as those without dependent children (2.3 per cent).
Almost half (47.9 per cent) the population in Greece were in arrears with mortgage, rent, utility bills or hire purchase payments, in 2016. Around one third of the population in Bulgaria (34.2 per cent), and over a quarter in Cyprus (26.6 per cent) and Croatia (26.4 per cent) were also in arrears of this type.
At the opposite end of the scale, half (14 out of 28) of the member states recorded that less than 10 per cent of their population were in arrears with mortgage or rent, utility bills or hire purchase payments. The smallest proportions were five per cent in the Netherlands, 4.4 per cent in the Czech Republic and 4.2 per cent in Germany.
When looking at the share of the population who were in arrears with mortgages or rental payments, so excluding utility bills or hire purchase payments, the highest percentage in the EU was also recorded in Greece, where 15.3 per cent of the total population had outstanding debts of this kind in 2016. This was considerably higher than in any of the other EU member tates.
The next highest proportion was recorded in Cyprus (8.6 per cent), followed by Spain and France (both 5.2 per cent), Hungary (5.1 per cent), Finland (4.9 per cent) and Italy (4.2 per cent).
In contrast, the percentage of the population in arrears was below two per cent in seven EU member states: Estonia (1.8 per cent), Germany (1.6 per cent), Ireland and Lithuania (both 1.4 per cent), Croatia and Poland (both 1.3 per cent) and Romania (0.9 per cent).
However, these low levels may be partially related to the small percentage of the population who had a mortgage or were renting at market prices, indicating that they had either already paid their mortgage or were not paying rent at market prices, Eurostat said.
Compared with 2008, the percentage of the population that were behind with their mortgage or rent payments in 2016 almost tripled in Greece, from 5.5 per cent to 15.3 per cent, while it more than doubled in Cyprus (from 3.4 per cent in 2008 to 8.6 per cent in 2016) as well as in Luxembourg (from 1.1 per cent to 2.7 per cent) and Poland (from 0.6 per cent to 1.3 per cent).
However, for Luxembourg and Poland the overall share of those in arrears remains low compared with other EU member states, the statistics agency said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)