An update on the boundary review. Back in September I published notional figures for the proposed boundaries in England & Wales. I’ve now updated those to include Scotland as well (this is partly because the Scottish boundary Commission published later, but it also took much longer to do – the Scottish Commission are much happier to split wards between constituencies, which probably leads to constituencies that better follow communities… but it makes it trickier to work out notional figures.)

Notional figures for new boundaries for England, Wales and Scotland

The partisan effects in Scotland are no great surprise. The SNP won 56 of Scotland’s 59 seats in 2015, so it was inevitable that most of the losses will be SNP. That aside, on the new boundaries they will be even more dominant. Orkney & Shetland is a protected seat so the sole Liberal Democrat constituency is retained, but Labour and the Conservatives will both see their single Scottish constituency disappear on the new boundaries.

Edinburgh South, the lone Labour seat in Scotland, is split between the new Edinburgh East and Edinburgh South West & Central seats. Both will notionally have an SNP majority of over 4000 – Edinburgh East will be a SNP-Lab marginal, with a SNP majority of 7.9%, Edinburgh SW&C will be a three-way marginal with the SNP in first place, the Conservatives in second place and Labour close behind them.

Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, the lone Tory seat in Scotland, mostly goes into Clydesdale & Eskdale, with the rest of the seat split into several much smaller parts. The new Clydesdale & Eskdale seat will have a notional SNP majority of about 5000. On paper the best seat for the Tories will be the new Berwickshire, Roxburgh & Selkirk seat, with a notional SNP majority of only 1.3% (though that’s an increase from 2015).

Now we have notional figures for the whole of Great Britain we can work out national totals and what sort of swings would be needed for parties to win a general election on these boundaries.

The 2015 general election had results of CON 330, LAB 232, LDEM 8, SNP 56, Others 24.
On the proposed boundaries the 2015 general election would have been CON 319, LAB 203, LD 4, SNP 52, Others 22. The Conservatives lose 11 seats, Labour lose 29, the Lib Dems 4 and the SNP 4.
Note that on the boundaries proposed for the abandoned review in the last Parliament the results would have been Con 322, Lab 204, LD 4 and SNP 50 – so this new boundary review is actually marginally worse for the Tories than the one that was blocked before the election.

I should add my normal caveat that these notionals are an accounting exercise – projecting how people voted in each ward, moving them into their new seats and totting up the votes. It does not take into account that some people might have voted differently in 2015 if they’d lived in different seats, for that reason I suspect it may slightly underestimate the Liberal Democrats (and it’s possible that the Greens might actually have saved their seat).

We can also look at what difference the boundaries would make to the leads each party needs to win an election.

  • Currently the Conservatives need to have a lead of 5.7% to get an overall majority (hence the 6.5% lead they actually got translating into only a tiny majority). On the proposed boundaries the Tories would get an overall majority with a lead of only 1.9%.
  • In contrast Labour currently need a towering lead of 12.6% to win an overall majority, and the boundary changes would move that target even further away, requiring a lead of 13.5%. To even be the largest party Labour would need a lead over the Conservatives of 4.7% (up from 3.9% on the current boundaries).

(One might reasonably wonder why, if the review makes nearly all the seats the same size, it still leaves the Conservatives in a better position than Labour. This is because different seat sizes is only one part of how votes translate unevenly into seats. The crucial part in explaining the present Conservative advantage is the distribution of the vote and the impact of third parties. The collapse of the Liberal Democrats and the growth of the SNP and UKIP means the system now favours the Conservatives. The Lib Dems are primarily strong in areas that would otherwise be Tory… but now win very few seats, UKIP have largely taken votes from the Tories, but this has not translated into many seats. In contrast the SNP are now utterly dominant in an area that previously returned a large number of Labour MPs. What this means if that if there is a Lib Dem revival or a Labour revival in Scotland the skew towards the Conservatives will unwind.)

These are only provisional recommendations – the boundary commissions will revise them based on the consultation period, so much of the detail will be tweaked before the final recommendations. It’s also far from a certainty that they will actually be implemented when they are complete. Earlier this month Pat Glass MP had a Private Members Bill which if passed would tweak some of the rules of the review, requiring the Commissions to start the process again from scratch and therefore probably delaying it beyond the election. I doubt the Bill will go far – it is nigh on impossible to pass a Private Members Bill in the face of government opposition. However, second reading did highlight some opposition to the boundary changes. Firstly, the DUP spoke against the boundary changes – there had been some speculation around conference season that there had been some sort of deal and the DUP were onside. They are apparently not. Secondly two Conservative MPs (Peter Bone and Steve Double) voted in favour of the Bill. It doesn’t take many rebels to stop the boundary changes progressing…


295 Responses to “Boundary review update”

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  1. @john b and @alec

    From today’s Telegraph:

    “Credit card debts hit a record high last month as Britons used the plastic to fund shopping more than ever before, according to Bank of England figures.

    The unprecedented boom has been aided by credit card companies offering shoppers zero percent interest rates for periods of several years, in an intensely competitive race to win new customers.

    British households have £66.2bn of credit card debt outstanding, a level that rose by £571m in the month.

    Overall unsecured consumer credit grew by 10.5pc in the year to October, representing the strongest pace of growth since October 2005.

    Gross card use in the month hit £15.98bn, also a record high. Overall this year total credit card debt has risen by £1.4bn.”

    So it looks like cheap money is fuelling a consumer debt boom.

  2. Candy

    The ‘paid off mortgage’ syndrome is no doubt a large contributor to the well-being of boomers, along with generous public and private sector pensions and the ‘triple lock’ boost to their state pensions. You could add: child-rearing costs completed, and, for many, a big available nest egg from down-sizing that paid-for house. Having completed my mortgage at the age of 50 (and received a £30k bonus into the bargain: endowment mortgages still delivered the goods in those days), I can attest to all of that.. So my age cohort can indeed tick the ‘I expect my personal situation to improve’ box in surveys.

    But I’m not sure what that tells us about the situation of current workers, and especially the young, which to me looks pretty grim: real wages still below the 2008 level; owner occupation increasingly out of reach; pension age disappearing over the horizon; increasing levels of personal debt (including student loans: not a problem for boomers).

    To me, this all adds up to a depressing outlook. And that’s before contemplating Brexit woes.

    Even that feel good factor from paid off mortgages is going to taper off since owner occupation peaked back in 2003. Today’s private renters will be tomorrow’s struggling pensioners, still paying rent until private accommodation is no longer feasible for them.

  3. The good thing about the EEA section 127 debate is that has thrown a light into that particular dark corner. It is neither as restrictive as some had assumed nor as similar to full EU membership as others had hoped.

  4. Alec,
    “Overall, this is an awful, awful poll for Corbyn. ”

    I think it exceedingly dangerous to blame labour’s poor polling on Corbyn. Their showing has been declining for quite a few succesive elections. Rather, Corbyn is a reaction by the party to the failings of its elite. Matters have then been seriously compounded by this elite revolting against the wishes of the members as to their own choice of leader. A random unbiased voter could perfectly well look at a party where its MPs are at war and conclude he wanted it not to become the government, regardless of actual policies.

    Corbyn is patently the choice of party members. I am unclear whether he is the choice of core labour voters, but he might be. If he is, then every time his MPs attack him, they are alienating their core vote.

  5. I don’t think Alec is blaming Labour’s rating on Corbyn, but -as party leader – his primary objective should be to deliver electoral success, and on this reading he is a very long way away from achieving it.

  6. Danny

    Of course it’s down to “Jeremy”.

    This is a small “c” conservative country. We don’t do revolution, only evolution.

    If Labour is to have any chance, it needs to get behind Brexit, have a robust immigration policy and stop sneering at its traditional supporters.

    The only group of voters where the Labour Party is ahead is amongst the 18-24 year olds….and they don;’t get out of bed to vote !!

    Ye gods !

  7. @Somerjohn

    The economy is intertwined. You can’t separate those who have paid off their mortgage from those who haven’t because they both exist in the same economy. The spending of the former provides income for the latter. One person’s spending is another person’s income.

    With the rental sector, a good 2 million are EU migrants and they will rent no matter what as that’s what migrants do. As for the rest – the govt’s clampdown on BTL landlords looks like it is having some effect as the number of first-time buyer mortgages increased. Once migrants from the EU cease to come here, wages should start to rise, it’s plain supply and demand. We have been very unfortunate in the last five years that EU member states have been running their countries in a delinquent manner and then exporting their unemployed to us. Luckily they won’t be our problem shortly.

  8. @Candy
    When wages start to rise, so will prices and/or taxes; if we have to pay more to care workers, agricultural workers and barristas then the cost of care to our councils, the cost of food in our shops, and the cost of our morning coffee will all rise.

    I’m sure we can cope with the last of these, but the demand for the first two is inflexible (the number of elderly requiring care will not go down, nor will people’s need for food), so if costs rise they will be absorbed by ordinary consumers/taxpayers, making individuals poorer.

    This is not as rosy a situation as you are painting…

  9. @SOMERJOHN

    Well, I’m 49 and not due to pay off my mortgage for another 15 years :-(
    On the other hand the repayments are a manageable 14% of me and my wife’s monthly net salaries. I don’t consider myself badly off – after council tax, pension contributions and mortgage repayments we still have £4,300 of cash left each month between us. In fact we have both bought new cars in the last three months and taken advantage of those long term 0% money transfer cards from Virgin and MBNA.

    Debt itself is not an issue – being able to manage that debt is the important thing. When you find that you cannot comfortably afford repayments that is when problems arise. And you should have enough cash savings to cover at least six months of salary. I have savings that could cover me for one year without work, so I’m not losing sleep at night.

  10. @Candy

    “39% of those who own outright are under 65 – three million households. And 31% of those who own outright are working.

    It’s the group that are working that is the new development. They’re the reason those who own outright are now the biggest group. They’ve basically used the years from 2008-2014 to overpay their mortgages instead of spending, and how their disposable incomes are huge and they can reward themselves by finally splurging.”

    —————-

    Thanks muchly Candy. So if 39% are under 65 years old, that rather suggests that 61% are 65 or over. of course that also leaves out some boomers who are younger than 65, so it could easily be in excess of 70% who are boomers…

    Then I suppose we might consider the BTL peeps too…

  11. Carfrew
    Do 80 and 90-year-olds count as ‘boomers’ in your definition? If not, what’s the cut-off point? You need to redo your estimate.

  12. Carfrew – “Then I suppose we might consider the BTL peeps too…”

    My understanding is that lots of btl landlords are middle aged (so generation x) and invested in btl in lieu of saving a pension.

    Also remember that boomers who are savers suffered from the interest rate cuts. One minute they were getting 5% on their savings, the next 0.25%. That would have hurt.

    The only people who have really benefitted from low interest rates are the ones I identified – those who paid off their mortgages but are still in full time work. They’re in the money.

    It would be nice if lots of people paid off their mortgages so that when interest rates rise eventually, as they must, there arn’t many borrowers to hurt, while the pensioner lot can get an income on their savings.

  13. ‘Baby boomer’ is defined on Wikipedia as those born between 1946 and 1964, although I would personally include those born in the latter years of the war also.

  14. @Pete B

    Well peeps older than boomers also benefitted from post-war housing policy, employment policy and nice pensions and benefit from current policies like triple lock… and also a fair number prolly fit into Candy’s group of those who own outright….

  15. Jasper

    I’m reading your posts with interest now.

  16. @Candy

    Sure, you have to see things in the round. So if you had £100k in savings you might have taken a hit on interest rates.

    But if meanwhile your house was bought for £100k and is now worth over a million…

  17. Candy

    I’m sure you are right about the effect of those overpaying to get rid of their mortgage.

    However, one might usefully add to the “under-65s owning their house outright”, those who inherited property from their parents’ generation – and paid off their own mortgage with the proceeds.

  18. Well I’m well under 65 and will be mortgage free next July. However far from having loads of extra down my older son starts Uni next September and I will be helping him out. Ces’t la vie.

  19. @OldNat

    You prompted me to look up how much is passed through inheritance, and you are correct. Average net estate in 2013-14 was £288,000 and there were 267, 549 estates processed in that period. See

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/541725/IHTNationalStatisticsCommentary.pdf

    It depends on how many people each estate is split amongst, as to how much people get. But some will be using the money to clear their mortgages

  20. @ToH

    “Your point about housing is well made. As you know I’ve always accepted that my generation and the Boomers had real advantages over the following generation.”

    —————-

    Watched summat on Youtube yesterday in which an American journalist cited a Senator from Minnesota who said that his generation growing up postwar had to plan to fail, while the current youngsters need a plan for success.

    Ladders keep being kicked from under them, with Brexit potentially kicking some more away. Things were not the happiest in the coffee shops immediately following the referendum…

  21. I read recently that the only well-off pensioners in future ( not immediate future) will be those who inherited wealth from their parents.

    Which translates as “the only comfortably off people will be those who inherit money from their parents”

    Forget Brexit and all the relatively ephemeral effects on our society. The entrenchment of privilege by the inheritance of wealth is what causes revolutions. For decades we increased the size of the property-owning class, and the majority were content. But generation rent are going to get quite pissed off soon and I think these are the people in Momentum who are casting around for a revolution to foment…

    Well that is perhaps over-apoclyptic but we need to think about inequalities in society rather than cutting inheritance tax…

  22. @Candy

    it isn’t. necessarily just inheritsnce. Parents might downsize and use what’s leftover to help clear offspring’s mortgages…

  23. @Carfrew

    Because interest rates are so low, the people downsizing are using the money to actually live on. And some people use the money for their long term care.

    I think most of those who have cleared their mortgages have actually overpaid in the last eight years because they believe that near zero interest rates are a one-off situation and they need to seize the opportunity before normality is restored.

    I found it interesting that we have a greater percentage of households who own outright than other countries. The bigger this cohort, the more stable our economy becomes, because they arn’t vulnerable to external shocks.

  24. @Andrew111

    The govt is desperate for Generation Rent to buy. Most of the housing benefit bill is paid to unemployed renters, so to get the bill down you need to force rents down. But rents are high because the cohort who are in work and should be buying arn’t. Hence the crackdown on the BTL landlords etc. Once the first time buyers are on the property ladder, rents should tumble due to reduced demand, and the welfare bill should drop.

  25. https://fullfact.org/law/brexit-supreme-court/

    This article is worth reading about the Supreme court Brexit case, as it explains so much. I did not realise that the Supreme Court could refer Article 50 issues to the European Court for a preliminary judgement, before they could make decisions about UK law affects. If this happens, it could delay Brexit being started by many months.

  26. @Candy – again, nice try, but the numbers are against you.

    2008 UK population 61,810,000, total household debt £1.39tr, average debt per head £22,488

    2016 UK population 65,300,000, total household debt +£1.5tr average debt per head £22,970.

    That means average debt per head is 2.14% higher now than at the outset of the credit crisis.

    We also have a 2015 report from Old Mutual Finance, based on (YouGov survey data, so be careful dismissing the data) that shows 30% of people reaching pension age still have a mortgage, with the average debt being £34,600, 19% of retirees owing over £50,000 and nearly 10% owing more than £100,000.

    The number of mortgage free households has risen slightly from 2008 to 2015 (rising by 1% per year on average) but that is expected, as mortgages have an expiry date – over time, more people will pay them off.

    In gross economic terms, what you are missing is that the reason there are more mortgage free households that mortgaged is actually because far fewer young people are getting first time mortgages and are stuck in the private rented sector. Those that have mortgages are having to pay higher prices, with debts stretching into retirement age.

    This is why, overall, there is more debt in the system. What you are really saying is that some people are well off and debt free and very happy, but collectively we are in more debt than ever before, and nothing you have said alters that fact. The economy is about the gross totals, not about one specific sector.

  27. @Candy

    “Because interest rates are so low, the people downsizing are using the money to actually live on. And some people use the money for their long term care.”

    ——–

    oh I don’t doubt that happens too. I didn’t say that paying off mortgages of offspring was the only use of money released by downsizing…

  28. Regarding pension age continually being pushed back for non-boomers etc., this in the Independent today…

    ” Millions of people currently in their twenties may have to work until they are 70 before receiving a state pension, a former minister has said.

    Documents produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reportedly suggest a “more aggressive” timetable for raising the state pension age, which could take it higher than ever before more quickly than previously expected.

    Tens of millions of workers aged 30-45 and 45-55 could also have to work for longer before retiring, until they are 69 and 68 respectively.”

  29. @Candy

    “I found it interesting that we have a greater percentage of households who own outright than other countries. The bigger this cohort, the more stable our economy becomes, because they arn’t vulnerable to external shocks.”

    ————-

    In addition to what Alec said – that fewer new mortgages means the proportion owning outright may rise – there’s another reason to consider.

    i.e. The rise in property prices, especialy with big differences across the country. Or across the Union if that makes Indy peeps happier?

    Thus people can clear a mortgage relatively easily by downsizing especially if moving somewhere with cheaper property.

  30. @Alec

    I’m not sure where you are getting your figures from. For example, take the following assertion you made – “We also have a 2015 report from Old Mutual Finance, based on (YouGov survey data, so be careful dismissing the data) that shows 30% of people reaching pension age still have a mortgage, with the average debt being £34,600, 19% of retirees owing over £50,000 and nearly 10% owing more than £100,000. ”

    That is directly contradicted by the English Housing Survey that the govt produced. See page 15

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/501065/EHS_Headline_report_2014-15.pdf

    Which says

    quote

    “91% of mortgagors were working, with 83% in full time work and 8% in part time work. Just 4% of mortgagors were retired”

    The 4% retired with mortgages rather contradicts your claim that 30% of people who are retired have mortgages.

    I expect Old Mutual and the charities you are fond of quoting have a vested interest in pretending things are a lot more dire than they actually are.

  31. @Alec

    “In gross economic terms, what you are missing is that the reason there are more mortgage free households that mortgaged is actually because far fewer young people are getting first time mortgages and are stuck in the private rented sector. Those that have mortgages are having to pay higher prices, with debts stretching into retirement age.
    This is why, overall, there is more debt in the system. What you are really saying is that some people are well off and debt free and very happy, but collectively we are in more debt than ever before, and nothing you have said alters that fact. The economy is about the gross totals, not about one specific sector.”

    Many moons ago when yours truly was studying the law of real property, we were instructed that estate policy in the UK dictated that the greatest possible number of estates be available to the greatest number of people. The larger the pool of available purchasers the more the wheels of estate transfer would keep turning, keeping prices affordable for most people. As a consequence people would have more money in their pocket to spend thus boosting the real economy.

    Somewhere along the line we abandoned this policy. We drew a line in the sand and decided to raise the drawbridge (the castle is looking our to sea!), therefore preferring one group (the current owners) against another (the prospective owners). As young people were kept apart from becoming homeowners at reasonable prices, their general purchasing power withered and died, leading them not to be able to make a meaningful contribution to the real economy. It’s all debt now.

  32. R Huckle

    “I did not realise that the Supreme Court could refer Article 50 issues to the European Court for a preliminary judgement, before they could make decisions about UK law affects”

    Not just that, but they (or any other court in the EU) must refer issues of EU law – that have not been previously ruled on, and aren’t obvious to the ECJ. That’s why a number of us have been speculating about who might raise the question of the revocability of Article 50, and why.

    To that, we must now probably add the interaction between Article 50 and EEA 127!

  33. Re the ICM poll

    I suspect that some pollsters are applying methodology, which is appropriate to the English polity, to the Scottish one as well – resulting in an inappropriately high Tory VI figure for the Scottish crossbreak (30% in this case).

    Since the Scots are only 9.3% of the GB sample, that doesn’t make a huge difference to the overall numbers, but perhaps the England only figures are more useful –

    Con 46% : Lab 29% : UKIP 13% : LD 8% : Grn 4%

  34. Speaking of Clegg…

    …apparently he’s saying Blair should have a voice in the Brexit thing…

  35. We shouldn’t forget those who are asset rich but income poor.

    If you bought your flat for £60k twenty years ago, you may still have five years to run, but even on a repayment mortgage your repayments might only be A couple of hundred a month, which may well mean that even when paid off you wouldn’t be necessarily in the money,

    Even if your flat is now worth £150k if you are on a low wage say £15k, you may well have credit card debt and no savings. You could sell your house but then where do you live. If your job is tied to an area of high house prices then you can’t effectively realise your asset.

    I remember canvassing someone during the referendum who described the Black Lsle as Brigadoon

    Some ten years before he had sold a three bed ex Council house near Stevenage for over £300k and after clearing his mortgage bought a five bedroom detached house near Fortrose.

    Problem is like Brigadoon you can never go back. Since then his new house has gone up to £350k, but his old one is near £500k!

    If you compare like for like a four bed £200k house in Scotland might cost you £800k closer to London. If you own outright that’s four times as much you have for the same thing and you’ve struck it rich, If your buying your being paying four times as much for the same thing and are being ripped off.

    I think there are so many variations by region, household, house and employment that we just can’t generalise.

    Peter.

  36. oldnat

    If that happened then proceed by legislation and make the reference irrelevant.

  37. S Thomas

    “If that happened then proceed by legislation and make the reference irrelevant.”

    What you are suggesting is a unilateral abrogation of the relevant Treaties by the UK.

    We have similar kinds of idiocy advocated by the loonier fringes of the Scottish indy movement too, so perhaps all you hard-line nationalists” are much the same?

  38. @Candy – my assumption would be that the survey I quote specifically mentions ‘retirement age’, whereas your data uses the term ‘retired’.

    One of the results of squeezed living standards and rising house prices is that many people of retirement age are still working (and still have mortgages).

    The two apparently contradictory bits of data may be, in fact, entirely consistent, if you start thinking about people having to work beyond state pension age.

  39. @Peter C

    “I think there are so many variations by region, household, house and employment that we just can’t generalise.”

    ————

    Top quibbling Pete!! Obviously not everyone’s circumstances are the same but you can draw some generalisations all the same.

    You gave an example of someone who sold his house when it still had substantial gains to make. Obviously he won’t be doing as well as all those who carried on accruing. That said, he made a different decision anyway, to trade a former council house for a five bedroom detached house, trading away some future gains in the process.

    Many boomers are doing that, trading some asset value for bigger premises elsewhere. Others downsize and free up the cash for other things. Either way they have choices others don’t have. Its just that some choices leave them less rich.

    It’s true that there will be some in the South who are asset rich and cash poor, sitting on a house worth over a million. But it’s a fair generalisation that they are often a lot better off than someone in the North who is both income poor and also hasn’t had the big house price windfall.

    And as for the increasing number who can’t get on the ladder it will often be the case that they fit the generalisation of not being nearly as well off as those who’ve seen their originally cheap house fetch over a million.

  40. @Alec

    Anyone who had a mortgage before 2008 would have experienced mortgage interest rates dropping from 7% to 2.5%. That represents a considerable windfall, which is why nearly nine years after the crash only 4% of retirees have mortgages, and lots of working people have paid theirs off.

    Add in that, post 2008, lenders have demanded bigger deposits, affordabilty tests to prove people can cope with interest rates of 5%, and are very careful to lend with terms ending before retirement age, and I’d say your survey is hot air. It doesn’t fit with what is actually happening.

    Think it through. Do you think the middle aged and old would have voted for the Conservatives in 2015 if they were in dire straits? Or support them now? I know you badly want to believe otherwise, but it’s that post-truth rabbit hole beckoning you again…

  41. @ Oldnat

    “Not just that, but they (or any other court in the EU) must refer issues of EU law – that have not been previously ruled on, and aren’t obvious to the ECJ. That’s why a number of us have been speculating about who might raise the question of the revocability of Article 50, and why.
    To that, we must now probably add the interaction between Article 50 and EEA 127!
    November 29th, 2016 at 8:12 pm”

    Another article on this.

    http://news.sky.com/story/european-court-of-justice-has-ultimate-authority-on-article-50-10677193

    I can totally understand government and many Labour MP’s saying that we must proceed with Brexit, without putting barriers in the way. Neither wants to lose votes. But i suspect many would be pleased if Brexit was stopped from happening by legal problems or forces outside of Parliament.

  42. @Candy – no. I’ve already explained why you mustn’t assume that 4% figure means 4% of people over retirement age. Don’t keep making the same mistake.

    “Add in that, post 2008, lenders …….. are very careful to lend with terms ending before retirement age, …….”

    Again, I’m afraid you are completely wrong here, as a cursory internet search would tell you. After the crash, there were difficulties for older borrowers as lenders pulled mortgages with terms extending beyond retirement age, even for well off people.

    However, this summer, Nationwide extended their mortgage term age limit to 85 years, and most lenders will now offer mortgages for older customers with age limits of 70 – 80 most common. You are simply wrong on this one. Pensioner mortgages are on the rise, out of necessity more than anything else. [The ONS also reckons 40,000 people a year are due to retire with unpaid interest only mortgages, which is around 0.5% of all mortgage holders].

    We’ve also had data from Fidelity Pensions from their own customers using the early release of pension funds which shows that 29% of those cashing in a pension pot early are doing it to pay off debts, with mortgage debts being the biggest single element. While this isn’t strictly speaking pension age debts, it adds further weight to the argument that debt levels among older people are rising.

    Of course the low interest rates have greatly helped mortgage payers, but house prices have risen since 2008 while incomes have flatlined, so affordability remains an issue.

    But it is worth pulling you back to the point. We weren’t talking about pensioner debts – merely consumer debts. Nothing you have said alters the fact that average consumer debt is now higher than it was before the financial crash, despite eight years of record low interest rates.

    You tried to claim that the gross numbers were misleading, because population growth meant individual debts were lower, but I provided the figures to show that was also incorrect.

    A much more interesting discussion would be why this is. The recent very rapid increase in unsecured debts looks very much like a confidence boost, rather than a stress response. Debt is rising because people feel better off. What you are implying is that people are paying off debt, which certainly did happen post crash as a stress response, but this has now unwound.

    The real question is whether this lasts as inflation erodes real living standards and if potential interest rate rises occur, and how and when we might see this debt bubble burst.

    Your analysis is wrong, in that while there may well be a group of householders now happily debt free, the positive impact they may have on the gross economy is outweighed by the fact that many others are deeper in debt, and the overall debt levels have worsened.

    You need sometimes to acknowledge that you get things wrong. I do (see my reply to you on the previous thread) and it is an enlightening and enervating process to admit mistakes.

  43. R Huckle

    ” i suspect many would be pleased if Brexit was stopped from happening by legal problems or forces outside of Parliament.”

    That wouldn’t surprise me at all!

  44. But where are you getting the figures for your debts? You briefly mentioned a charity – but where did they get their figures from? Some sort of projection, a survey or are they actual numbers?

    I’m sceptical because Remainers love to use projections that turn out to be wrong.

    I’ve cited where I got my numbers from – perhaps you can do the same?

  45. Also – you claim that this summer the Nationwide started offering mortgages to 85, no numbers of how many took up this mortgage, but you claim that in just six months of being on offer it will result in 30% of retirees having mortgages? Doesn’t add up…

  46. Purely coincidentally !!! :-) Clarification of the rules for referring consideration of EU law matters to the ECJ were published last Friday.

    http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.C_.2016.439.01.0001.01.ENG&WT.mc_id=Twitter

    How handy.

  47. @CARFREW

    “Documents produced by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) reportedly suggest a “more aggressive” timetable for raising the state pension age, which could take it higher than ever before more quickly than previously expected.
    Tens of millions of workers aged 30-45 and 45-55 could also have to work for longer before retiring, until they are 69 and 68 respectively.”

    It would very damaging to the government if they decided to increase an already high state retirement age. This is basically theft in my view. The pension age has already increased to 67 for people of my age tranche, therefore I am losing £16k for no reason at all other than the whim of the government. If they increase the age further they risk alienating a lot of people aged 45-55 who are natural Tory voters. I believe Hammond would be less keen than Osborne to take such a risk – I certainly hope so.

    We already have one of the most ungenerous state pensions in the developed world and either increasing the age or removing the triple lock is utterly unnecessary. What needs to happen is some form of means testing, so that the like of retired surgeons and judges do not get the state pension at all, as they so obviously don’t need it!

  48. @CANDY

    “I’m overpaying mine, and have a bit to go. You’d be surprised how many people out there are overpaying their mortgages, and once they achieve it, they feel very, very good. Very happy and start spending with abandon.”

    I’m not overpaying mine and I am still spending with abandon. But then again I was one of those sensible people who did not overstretch in the first place.

  49. @ANDREW111

    “I read recently that the only well-off pensioners in future ( not immediate future) will be those who inherited wealth from their parents.
    Which translates as “the only comfortably off people will be those who inherit money from their parents””

    True, but given that a certain prince and heir to the throne aged 68 has yet to inherit anything I would not bet on even those from quite rich families being able to retire early!! (Not that this prince needs the money anyway – just giving an example).

    Actually the easiest thing if you live in London – or even anywhere the south-east – is to sell your house and move somewhere cheap like Shropshire, Wales or Scotland. You can cash in the equity and stick the middle finger to the government even when the bast**ds decide to increase the state retirement age.

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