14 November 2007

Brown's Britain -- Personal Debt And Saving

In Gordon Brown's final budget, he emphasised that Britain had "rising employment and rising investment; continuing low inflation; low interest and mortgage rates; built on the foundation of the longest period of economic stability and sustained growth in our country's history."

Alliance and Leicester have found that:

Homeowners are responding to the five interest rate rises since August 2006 by cutting back on saving and by borrowing less. It finds that those with mortgages are increasingly lagging behind the average. In January 2006, the average sum of savings of a mortgaged household was 64 per cent of that of homes with no mortgage to pay, but it is now down to 48 per cent.
Gordon Brown's constant emphasis on how we've never had it so good obscures the fact that a minority of households are financially unstable in three to four combined ways, and half of us are not financially stable for the long-term, i.e. retirement.

Financial exclusion affects up to 8 million of the most vulnerable households in the UK.

- Half of households have negligible savings; half are not making provision for a decent income in retirement.
- Only one in three households with incomes under £20k have life insurance.
- Only 12% have income protection insurance
- In some of the most deprived areas, close to half the households do not have home contents insurance.

At the same time, personal debt has reached record levels at over £1.3 trillion, while the huge increase in property prices pushes mortgages to levels which exclude lower income consumers.

Mick McAteer, Director, Financial Inclusion Centre
If we have had 60 straight quarters of "growth," we need to start thinking about why "growth" is wrong, that is, why "growth" is not being redistributed to society.

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