Only 1% of homeowners will be effected by interest rate rise

Research carried out by the Personal Finance Research Centre and supported by Genworth Financial has found that just 1% of mortgage borrowers will be affected by an interest rate rise.

The research also found that the chance of a person loosing their job is potentially a far greater threat, with a quarter of all households, 27 % at risk of falling into difficulties if the main earner loses their income for a month or more.

Other key findings of the research are that almost 60% of the UK population seem financially sound and a further 25% of people are managing reasonably well financially.

Just under 10% of the population show signs of financial stress, yet members of this group seem to be burying their heads in the sand as many of them consider that they are living within their means.

Many of them have heavy unsecured credit or mortgage commitments. Two further groups are clearly struggling financially and falling into arrears with their commitments: 6% mainly because they have low incomes and a further 2% because, although they have average incomes, they are over-indebted.

Between July 2005 (when the survey data was collected) and October 2006, six energy suppliers have raised prices by between 23 and 49%.
In view of this, the study investigated the likely impact of a 40% increase in expenditure on fuel.

As might be expected, such increases bear most heavily on the very elderly and people with the lowest incomes.

In contrast, most of the population will be able to accommodate them in their household budgets.

David Lane, Genworths regional manager for Western Europe, says: Lenders and insurers need to share responsibility for ensuring the long-term financial security of our customers.

It is only through a deep understanding of the financial burdens borne by a considerable proportion of the population that we can develop useful safety nets.

“These are important today but will be vital if economic conditions worsen.

We hope that this study will stimulate the development of practical policy solutions for the worsening personal debt exposure in the UK, based on a robust partnership and dialogue between the government and the financial sector.

Elaine Kempson, professor at the personal finance research centre at the University of Bristol, says: This study shows that losing your job represents the biggest risk to someones ability to make ends meet and nearly three in ten adults in the UK would be in serious difficulty if they lost the main wage in their family.

We need to raise awareness of the dangers of living for the day and not planning for the future.

Although increases in fuel prices and mortgage interest rates represent much less of a risk for most of us, a minority of people will be hit hard. It is important, therefore, that we focus on ways of helping those who are most vulnerable.

That means supporting initiatives to tackle fuel poverty among the poor and very elderly, while making potential home buyers aware of the dangers of over-borrowing.