WE ALL know they are coming, even if not quite yet.
This matters because housing costs make up a large proportion of household outgoings; our survey for Panorama last year found that 31 per cent of mortgage holders spend more than a third of their income on their mortgage.
This is important electorally for at least two reasons. First, the prevailing economic climate and perceptions of the government's record will be critical in the lead up to the general election. Second, mortgage holders have considerable voting power; they make up a third of the electorate and, with home-owners, are more likely to turn out than renters. Historically, they have also been one of two bellwether tenures (private renters being the other), voting for the winning party at the last four elections.
At first sight, rate rises might offer some potential political capital for Labour, perhaps adding to its "cost of living crisis" narrative. In July,
At the moment, however, mortgage holders are not especially different from other tenures. In fact, this group is less likely to say they have worried in the past two to three weeks about interest rate rises than private and social renters (likely reflecting loans and other borrowing). Our monthly Issues Index finds mortgage holders' top two issues of concern to be the economy and immigration, the same as for owners, and private and social renters. And across our last three polls, Labour has a two point lead among this group, mirroring the overall picture. This slim lead comes despite, not because of,
All the indications are that, when they come, rate rises will be incremental, and the Bank will want to avoid undue shocks to household finances and the economy. Rates are worth watching, but so are the mood and affiliations of mortgage holders.
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