By Tomas Hellebrandt and Silvia Pezzini of the Bank's Monetary Assessment and Strategy Division and Jumana Saleheen and Richard Williams of the Bank's Structural Economic Analysis Division.
The severe recession of the past year might be expected to have put the financial position of British households under considerable strain. Unemployment has risen significantly, credit conditions have tightened and many homeowners have seen their housing equity eroded. But many borrowers have also benefited significantly from the effects of lower mortgage interest rates. Evidence from the latest survey of households, carried out for the Bank by NMG Financial Services Consulting in late September and early October, shows how these and other changes impacted on households' budgets and their decisions on whether to spend or save. Despite the weak economic backdrop, a slightly smaller proportion of households reported problems repaying their debts than in the 2008 survey. Partly this was because around half of mortgagors had benefited from lower interest rates. Around a quarter of households had increased or planned to increase saving.