Home Finance This cost now worries Britons more than crime and climate change

This cost now worries Britons more than crime and climate change

The high cost of putting a roof over our heads is climbing up the list of concerns facing Britons as the general election looms later this year.
Soaring rents and mortgage repayments for people coming off cheap fixed rate deals means it has taken on greater significance than crime and climate change, according to a new study of public concerns.
The continuing cost-of-living crisis remains the biggest worry with 89 percent identifying it as a concern, with the NHS second on 88 percent and the economy third on 70 percent.

However, the proportion of people who voiced housing concerns has risen from 53 percent in late October and early November 2022, to 64 percent today, putting it fourth on the list.

Two in five (41 percent) say their rent or mortgage has risen in the past six months, which is up from 27 percent in March 2022. As a result, some 36 percent say it’s difficult to afford the payments.

The figures come from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which has published its latest survey on public opinions and social trends.

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance, Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Housing is more of a pressing concern for people than crime, climate change and immigration.

“Almost two in three people now say it’s a key issue facing the UK – not far behind the cost-of-living crisis, the NHS and the economy.

“It’s hardly surprising. Housing costs are putting anyone paying a mortgage under increasing pressure. Over 1.4 million people remorgaged from a fixed rate mortgage last year – more than half were coming off rates under 2 percent and were facing rates closer to 5 percent.
“Right now, Moneyfacts figures show the average two-year fixed-rate mortgage costs 5.94 percent – alarmingly close to 6 percent.
“It’s no wonder figures from the HL Savings & Resilience Barometer show that one in four people with a mortgage are at risk of falling into arrears by the end of the year, and that ONS figures show a third of people say it’s difficult to afford the rent or mortgage.”

She added: “Life is even tougher for renters. For months now we’ve seen landlords voting with their feet and leaving the property market, while the number of tenants continues to build.

“It means average rents are up by around 10 percent in a year. For those facing such a massive hike, it’s no wonder that the rent is such a stretch.

“Average rents tend to be lower than average mortgage payments – and private rents tend to be similar to mortgage payments – but renters are on lower average incomes, so their housing costs swallow a much bigger slice of their income.”

She said it is taking a massive toll on the short-term financial resilience of renters. The Barometer shows they have around £193 left at the end of the month, compared to those with mortgages who have £353 left.

As a result, fewer than half of renters have enough savings put aside – compared to almost three quarters of mortgagees.

Miss Coles said: “It bodes badly for the future too, because only 18 percent of renters are on track for a moderate retirement income, compared to 55 percent of mortgagees and 51 percent of outright owners.

“Over time, we can hope that falling interest rates take some of the pain out of the mortgage market. However, for renters it’s hard to see how life will get better while the market gets increasingly unbalanced with every passing month.”

She said the financial pressure means people face a real squeeze on their incomes and savings unless they take action.

“Nobody is pretending this is easy, but if you can free up just a small sum of cash to pay down debts, build emergency savings, or contribute to a pension or a SIPP, you can help ensure that a major problem facing the UK today doesn’t become a major issue

for your finances for the foreseeable future,” she said.


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