The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee voted to hold the base rate at a historically low 0.5% yet again this month, but an impending rise could trigger a widespread need for advice on bankruptcy.
Economists are increasingly expecting a rate rise, and based on past experience this is slightly more likely to coincide with the publication of the quarterly Inflation Report; this is next due in February, and should give the MPC members their clearest view of the state of the economy when making their next Bank Rate decision.
For savers, an increase in the base rate is broadly good news, as it should finally mean a return to generating an income from their savings, and this in turn is a key concern for anyone whose pension income is generated in such a way.
But for those with debts, any increase in interest often means an increase in repayments, potentially pushing those who are already on the edge of affordability beyond their means.
According to figures from TSB, for instance, 56% of mortgage holders already struggle to pay their bills, and 72% would likely see their monthly repayments rise in line with any increase in the base rate.
Yet 20% have no idea of how their repayments would change, 26% would have “real difficulty” coping with a monthly increase in excess of £99, 28% would brave the cold by turning their heating down to cut their energy bill, and a massive 69% would face a reduction in their supermarket food shopping budget.
This raises the very real prospect of British households going cold and hungry in light of an interest rate rise – a particular concern if the decision is made in February before the warmer weather of spring sets in.
In the meantime, those who think they would have severe affordability problems should consider seeking advice on bankruptcy.
Surrendering a property is never an easy decision to make, but early action may provide alternatives – and should at least avoid making more monthly repayments on a mortgage on which you will ultimately default.