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The average wealth of Britain’s households dropped by 17 per cent last year, which could highlight the need for debt management, a new report finds.

Findings from Citigroup show this is the biggest drop for 40 years, fuelled by falling house prices and problems in the stock market.

"Although the Bank of England used to be somewhat sniffy about these ‘wealth effects’ on spending, it is clear that we are seeing an impact," comments Michael Saunders, chief UK economist at Citigroup.

He adds that the estimated 40-year low may, in fact, be greater than the experts predicted.

A weakness in consumer spending has also enhanced the problem of personal debt, the expert believes, with the statistics showing a drop of £45,000 in wealth per household.

The figures follow similar findings released in the US last week, which showed the average household became poorer by an average of 18 per cent in 2008.

According to statistics published by CreditAction on March 2nd, total UK personal debt at the end of January 2009 stood at £1,457 billion.

This has slowed further by 0.6 per cent to 2.8 per cent in the last 12 months, it also found.

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