By Kishore Kamath and Kate Reinold of the Bank’s Structural Economic Analysis Division, Mette Nielsen of the Bank’s Risk Assessment Division and Amar Radia of the Bank’s Monetary Assessment and Strategy Division.
Over the past year the recovery in the UK economy appears to have slowed. That weakness in UK demand has been driven by falling consumption, reflecting the challenging environment facing households. This article examines the factors affecting households’ budgets and spending decisions using the latest survey of households carried out for the Bank of England by NMG Consulting in September 2011. The survey suggests that most households had experienced an income squeeze, and credit conditions remained tight. Around half of households reported that they had been affected by, and had responded to, the fiscal consolidation. Reported levels of financial distress had remained elevated but had been contained by the low level of Bank Rate and some forbearance by lenders. Looking ahead, households were uncertain about future incomes and expected to continue to be influenced by the fiscal tightening. Households in aggregate, did not expect to change the amount they saved.