Financial News

  • 23 December 2013, 7:38

Mortgage Misery For Millions If Rates Go Up

Around four million families would not have enough cash to pay their mortgage if interest rates rose to barely half the rate they were before the crisis, according to Bank of England research.

The warning from the Bank comes amid growing speculation that it may begin to consider lifting the cost of borrowing within months.

Research published in the Bank's Quarterly Bulletin sketches out a worrying picture for UK households in the event of an increase in the cost of borrowing.

The Bank's statistics show that if rates rose by 2.5% to a level of 3%, more than half of the eight million families with mortgages would not have enough in their monthly budgets to afford the increased interest payments.

They would be forced to cut their spending or work longer hours.

However, the Bank said that if families' incomes increased by 5% in the coming years, then the proportion of mortgage-holders struggling to manage their payments would be around a third.

Insiders also pointed towards the fact that at present investors only expect interest rates to reach 1.7% by the end of 2016 - significantly lower than the 3% level in the Bank's scenario.

The shock would not be limited to those with mortgages. The Bank's report also found that almost 5% of small businesses in the UK faced a 50% or greater chance of defaulting if interest rates rose by four percentage points.

However, the report also found that for many families the current debt burden decreased over the past year.

The proportion of mortgagors struggling to pay for their accommodation remained relatively unchanged; the share of households worried about their debt levels dropped from 46% to 39%.

The most strain over the past year was felt by those who rent their home. The Bank's research shows that the number of renters who face credit card and unsecured loan interest bills of more than a fifth of their incomes has risen from 800,000 to 1.1 million this year.

The worry is that the households most exposed to debt problems are those who are renting, are unable to rely on the capital value of their home, and who have had to take out large loans to sustain their lifestyles.

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