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Over a quarter of borrowers face financial difficulties when interest rates rise

24th September 2014 Print

Over a quarter of people with a mortgage (27%) say they will be in financial trouble when interest rates rise, according to new research by the Building Societies Association and the Money Advice Trust.

The YouGov survey reveals that 39% say that they will have to cut spending on holidays and eating out to cope with rate rises, whilst a fifth say that they will be forced to cut back on essentials like clothing and food.

The survey of 2,316 mortgage borrowers also showed that over half (54%) think that the Bank of England's official Bank Rate will be 2% or lower by mid-2017, however, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, has indicated that the Monetary Policy Committee expects the Bank Rate to rise gradually from its current 0.5% to about a more long term normal Bank Base rate of  3%.

Commenting on the results, Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage Policy at the Building Societies Association, said: "These results indicate the sensitivity of people’s monthly spending to changes in general household expenditure, indicating that as mortgage rates rise this could have a significant impact on economic recovery.  Many consumers are only used to a low rate environment which will change and whilst most mortgage rates are not linked quite so directly to the base rate as they used to be, rates will rise as it increases.    

"Clearly some of the actions borrowers say they would take may not be within their control, for example working additional hours.  Our advice to those concerned about interest rate rises is to start thinking about how they will manage the increased costs. This could include creating a household budget, to taking a look at mortgage calculators and rescheduling unsecured loans such as credit cards. Sense checking now to be sure a plan is realistic could make all the difference when repayments go up for real."

Joanna Elson, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Trust, said: “After all these years, mortgage-payers are in for a big financial shock when interest rates begin to rise.  For many, that shock will be too much to absorb – and there is a real risk that we will see a surge in unmanageable debt problems as a result.

“Our message to borrowers is clear – interest rates will rise and that day is coming soon, so now is the time to prepare.  Draw up a budget, speak to your lender, and if you do find yourself struggling to repay, seek free debt advice as early as possible.