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Over half say they will struggle when interest rates rise

Building Societies Association | Building Societies Association

3 min read Partner content

Over half (52%) of borrowers say they will struggle or fall behind with mortgage repayments when interest rates rise, according to new research published by the Building Societies Association.

The survey has revealed that one tenth would experience real financial problems. A further 14% said they would be able keep up with repayments, but it would be a constant struggle. One quarter of people (23%) said that they would experience difficulty from time to time.
When questioned about the impact on their lifestyle, 18% of borrowers say they will have to cut back on essentials such as food or clothing in order to make their monthly repayments. A further 15% say they will have to work more hours in order to keep on top of their mortgage commitments.

Commenting on the results, Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage Policy at the Building Societies Association, said:
"Concern from borrowers is natural when it comes to interest rate rises. There are at least 1.85 million homeowners that have never experienced a rate rise, we have a record low Bank Base Rate for so long, it is unsurprising that some people are concerned that a rise in rates will affect their lifestyles and ability to make mortgage repayments.
"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. Free money advice is available for those that are concerned.
“The good news is that the results of our survey show nearly a quarter (22%) of borrowers will not have to make any changes to their lifestyle when interest rates rise. With the economy more stable than it has been for years, this is a positive result. That said, with inflation near zero and the Monetary Policy Committee voting by a majority of eight to one to maintain the Bank Rate at 0.5%, it is looking unlikely that things will change before well into 2016.”

Joanna Elson OBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline, added:

“After years of low rates, borrowers’ minds are beginning to focus on the prospect of higher interest rates, and what this will mean for their finances.  Nevertheless, many mortgage-payers are still in for a big financial shock when rates do start to climb – and we remain concerned that many will fall into problem debt as a result.  We must not forget that renters, too, are likely to be affected as extra mortgage costs are passed on by landlords.

“Households now have a window of opportunity to re-assess their budgets, look again at their borrowing and think about how they will cope with higher interest rates.  It is crucial they take advantage of this and prepare themselves now.  Anyone who is concerned should speak to their lender and seek free debt advice from a charity-run service such as National Debtline as soon as possible.”

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