By Mette Nielsen of the Bank's Risk Assessment Division, Silvia Pezzini of the Bank's Monetary Assessment and Strategy Division, and Kate Reinold and Richard Williams of the Bank's Structural Economic Analysis Division.
The UK economy has begun to recover over the past year but households' financial positions remain under strain. Elevated unemployment, weak earnings growth and restricted credit availability still pose a problem for some households. But the low level of Bank Rate has continued to bear down on mortgage interest payments for some borrowers. This article examines evidence from the latest survey of households carried out for the Bank by NMG Consulting in late September, which shows how these and other changes have affected households' budgets and spending decisions. The burden of unsecured debt was higher than in the past and concerns about debt levels had increased, leading some to save more in order to reduce indebtedness. A special set of questions this year showed that households' awareness of the fiscal consolidation measures was quite high. They were concerned about the impact on their finances, although the majority had yet to take any action in response.