By Philip Bunn and May Rostom of the Bank’s Structural Economic Analysis Division, Silvia Domit and Nicola Worrow of the Bank’s Monetary Assessment and Strategy Division and Laura Piscitelli of the Bank’s Market Sectors and Interlinkages Division.
This article examines recent developments in household balance sheets using disaggregated data from an annual survey carried out by NMG Consulting on behalf of the Bank. The survey indicates that household debt levels remain well above historical averages, but are little changed since last year. While debt servicing costs were also broadly unchanged, a significant increase in interest rates at current incomes may increase financial pressure on households with a mortgage – but the extent to which this is the case will depend crucially on how much incomes pick up before any rise in rates. This issue is explored by considering a number of scenarios for interest rate rises based on survey responses and some simple assumptions that are set out in the article.