Bank fears borrowing binge
HOUSEHOLDS are bingeing on cheap credit cards and personal loans at the fastest rate since before the financial crisis, according to the Bank of England.
The figures provide ammunition for the Bank, which is expected to unveil a crackdown today on risky lending, including buy-to-let mortgages.
The central bank is worried that household debt is rising too fast, as families take advantage of a glut of cheap money.
The amount owed on personal loans and credit cards rose by 8.2pc – or £1.2bn – in the year to october to £177bn, according to its latest figures.
This is the biggest increase since 2006, before the financial crisis, and repeats the 8.2pc surge in the year to September. Mortgage approvals jumped to 69,630 from 69,012 in September – driven by a growth in the buy-to-let lending market. The Bank’s Financial Policy Committee is expected to announce measures to rein in risky lending. This may include activating the so-called ‘counter cyclical buffer’, which forces banks to set aside more capital in the good times to cover losses in the bad times.
Experts have warned such a move would prompt banks to hike interest rates on loans as they pass increased costs on to customers.
The Bank will today also publish the results of ‘stress tests’ which gauge whether the UK’s biggest banks have enough capital to withstand another financial crisis.
The Bank and the Treasury said their Funding for Lending Scheme to encourage banks to lend more to small businesses has been extended by two years until January 2018.