Brown urged to address personal debt

Interest rates rise to six-year high
Interest rates rise to six-year high

The Liberal Democrats have increased the pressure on the government to address rising levels of personal debt.

The renewed focus on personal borrowing came as the Bank of England raised the base rate to 5.75 per cent.

This represents the fifth interest rate hike of the past year and brings the cost of borrowing to its highest level for six years.

Lib Dem economic spokesman Vince Cable said the latest interest rate hike would only increase the already heavy burden of UK personal debt.

He was responding to warnings that debt repayments have reached a record high.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers found indebted Britons are now paying 19 per cent of their disposable income on debt repayments.

Mr Cable said the report "highlights the stress of personal debt on hard working family budgets".

He said: "The government has overlooked what is becoming a very serious and deteriorating problem."

The Lib Dems have called on the government to create a network of financial advice centres providing independent, generic advice. They also want credit products to carry "health warnings" to flag up the cost of repayments.

Shelter has added its own concerns to the latest interest rate rise. It calculates the 5.75 per cent base rate will cost homeowners £130 a month, bringing many people close to their financial limit.

Adam Sampson, Shelter's chief executive said: "With people already overstretching themselves just to get on the housing ladder, this rate rise will push many over their financial limit, leaving them facing mortgage arrears, repossession and even homelessness.

"Gordon Brown must now deliver on his commitment to build thousands of affordable homes Britain desperately needs, as well as ensuring all mortgage companies lend responsibly and use repossession as a very last resort."

Addressing MPs yesterday, Mr Brown said the country needed to increase the number of new house building projects, but said Conservative local authorities first had to approve the plans.


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