Thousands of Croydon mortgage-holders hit by ‘greedflation’

ANDREW FISHER on the ‘collective irrationality’ over interest rate increases which can only make an already bad economic situation much, much worse – with some residents in this borough facing mortgage increases of more than £5,000 per year

In the middle of the Vietnam War, an American Major told a reporter, “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

There’s the same kind of sentiment surrounding the economy in much of the commentary coming from the Bank of England and the Treasury, as they hike interest rates during the most prolonged fall in living standards in British economic history.

Yes, it may cause a recession, repossessions, and unemployment – but it’s the only way to save the economy!

Yesterday lunchtime, the Bank of England announced it was going to increase interest rates for the 13th consecutive time, with the base rate going to 5per cent, the highest level since the global financial collapse in 2008.

Like some medieval quack that can only prescribe leeches, the Bank of England has decided that the solution now is, yes, you guessed it, more leeches.

John McDonnell MP, the former shadow chancellor, said, “A collective irrationality seems to have taken over.”

This is very bad news for anyone in Croydon with a mortgage or with personal loans or credit cards, or who is likely to require a loan in the coming months.

There are more than 50,000 households in Croydon with a mortgage – with the highest proportion living in the Croydon South constituency of former Treasury minister Chris Philp.

Unimpressed: yesterday’s tweet from former shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP

If you’re renewing a fixed-term mortgage deal, then you could soon be in for a significant increase in your mortgage payments.

Nearly three-quarters of mortgage holders have either renewed their mortgage in the last six months or will have to in the next three years (equating to about 36,000 households in Croydon).

The hike in interest rates means the average mortgage-holder will – according to the Resolution Foundation – be paying an extra £2,900 per year.

Many households with a mortgage will struggle to find an extra £240 per month at a time when rising energy and food costs are already hitting their finances.

The situation is likely to be worse in Croydon, where house prices are significantly higher than the UK average, and therefore mortgages are larger. In Croydon South it is estimated that the average increase facing a mortgage holder will be an extra £5,200 a year – or £433 extra per month.

If you thought the Conservative Mayor’s 15per cent Council Tax hike was bad, wait till you pay the Tory mortgage premium…

Households in Croydon North and Croydon Central will fare little better – with the average mortgage increase there likely to be an extra £4,000 and £4,300 respectively a year.

Every penny paid in mortgage repayments will be a penny not being spent in the local economy – dealing another blow to the retail and hospitality sectors at a time when many businesses are already struggling.

Interest rate rises as a means of tackling inflation can work in certain circumstances – for example, when inflation is caused by a rapidly growing economy and increasing consumer demand. Interest rate rises deter borrowing for spending by making it more expensive. These were the circumstances that prevailed during the “Lawson Boom” in the 1980s, when Thatcher’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson was advocating Bank of England independence.

In the end it was the New Labour government in 1997 that granted the Bank of England independence, with the mandate to maintain low inflation – a 2per cent target – using interest rates to control inflation.

The problem for politicians and the Bank of England is that we are not in circumstances similar to the late 1980s, and the policy response needs to reflect that reality.

Comparisons with the 1980s and early 1990s are misplaced – then, real wages were rising, the economy was growing, house prices were significantly lower and households were not as leveraged (that is, up to the eyeballs in mortgage debt).

After 40 years of house price inflation, many home-owners today are having to pay mortgages that are three, four or even five times larger than people were dealing with back in the mid-1980s. And that means that the interest rate rises today are also much, much bigger.

Stairway to destruction: some City dealers are already speculating that the base rate could reach 6% by the end of this year

Today, the economy is stagnant, and wages are falling in real terms, and are lower in real terms than before the banking crash 15 years ago.

Households are spending a much higher proportion of their income on housing costs – and therefore even relatively small increases in interest rates risk mortgage-holders falling into arrears, increasing the dire risk of repossession.

Britain currently has the highest rate of inflation, among the lowest economic growth and the worst performance on wages. Tackling these three economic failures simultaneously takes some skill, while tackling one in isolation risks worsening the others.

As research by the union Unite has shown, profiteering has become endemic, with the top 350 British firms increasing their average profit margins increased from 5.7per cent in the first half of 2019 to 10.7per cent in the first half of 2022.

Unite has termed this “greedflation”.

Other countries in Europe have lower inflation than Britain and their governments have done more to control prices by capping energy bill rises more, regulating supermarket pricing and cutting transport costs.

Even the woeful Bank of England notes in its report that “price-setting” is playing a large role in driving inflation and that wages are only rising at the top end of the economy, with increases “concentrated in higher-paying sectors such as financial and business services”.

Bank profits in the UK rose to £37billion in 2022, and their profits in the first quarter of 2023 put them on course to exceed that this year, funding record bankers’ bonuses. Meanwhile, those in debt or with mortgages will feel the pain.

As the old Music Hall classic goes, “It’s the same the whole world over, it’s the poor what gets the blame,

“It’s the rich what gets the pleasure,

“Ain’t it all a bloomin’ shame?”

Andrew Fisher’s recent columns:

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3 Responses to Thousands of Croydon mortgage-holders hit by ‘greedflation’

  1. Christopher Massey says:

    If the only tool in your tool box is a hammer. Pretty soon all problems look like nails.

  2. Ian Kierans says:

    Andrew makes some good points, this week I read in london paper about a couple renting having their flat put up by £100s of pounds and over £2k a year close to three. The reason was quite simply because the market had risen. So in effect he felt he should make more profit. Thats legal apparantly. That he had failed to fix the flats wiring for over a month and failed to compensate that couples loss due to that fault of his added insult to injury.
    Frankly they are better off leaving but the costs they will incur in doing so and then trying to find anywhere that is affordable will perhaps lead to employment issues and loss of role.
    No one should mind a business making money and that is what our economy is supposed to do. But we do need to tighten up on rank profiteering especially when it severely impacts on the general economy and peoples ability to live and work as t is so clearly doing today

  3. Ian Kierans says:

    I do not blame the Bank of England for doing what it has to. That is their role. When inflation increases due to spending increase the cost of the money fueling the spending.
    Except it is not spending fueling this. Ukraine war, commodity prices and their scarcity, after effects of Covid and trade along with Brexit issues. Both the Tory idiocy in failing to effectively get their ducks in a row if you are a brexiteer or that it happened at all if you were a remainer. Lots of issues but not a majority of spending. Falsely inflated costs are what has driven up costs and inflation.
    The Bank of England therefore is not the weapon to use. That lies with the (extreme?) Right (Dis?) Honourable J Hunt MP.

    The probem with Magdalan PPE graduates is not really Oxfords fault. They are a clever bunch that learn a lot and are good to listen to (with a truck of reality salt sometimes), but some do have this very blinkered understanding of direct and indirect impacts of apparantly very logical decisions and cannot understand why there is so much resistance to such good ideas.

    Perhaps it may be they do not understand others points,(or could not care) nor cater to them. So often people in general just want to screw their plans up, just to teach the arrogant shits a factual reality.

    In the meantime buggar all is moving forward and everyone suffers.

    Well the approach that was taken by the longest serving Secretary of State for health engendering the first strike for 40 years by Junior Doctors and even today is still causing issues and more strikes and has crucified the NHS to the extent that it is barely fit for purpose – appears to be now being taken towards the Economy at large.

    Buckle up folks this is going to get hairy!

    One gets the feeling that the Conservative right has thrown in the towels in the battle against Starmer and have embarked on policies that allow this Country to be raped and pillaged at will by certain friendly corporations and individuals or those that will halp in the future. The PIG’s are troughing goodo in preperation to become crackling!

    (Politicians In Government)

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