January tends to be a comedown following the Christmas festivities, and, from a personal finance perspective, a time for many Britons to lick their wounds. In particular, for those who’ve over-extended their credit card, it may feel like the walls have started to close in.
As the good times rolled in the mid-2000s, only a precious few sounded the alarm as lending became increasingly reckless. Northern Rock's infamous 'Together' 125 per cent mortgage epitomised the rush for high loan-to-value (LTV) deals at a time when it was thought that house prices would just keep going up forever.
One of the perceived strengths of the auto-enrolment pension scheme is its simplicity – indeed, it is actually a greater effort for an employee to opt-out of a workplace pension than it is to be enrolled into one. No further actions are required, and the retirement fund grows as the months and years pass by.
Whenever discussion turns to Britain’s misfiring property market, the words ‘stamp duty’ are seldom far away. Indeed, over the past two decades, it’s been something of a political football – one which has had a profound impact on both housing transactions, and the coffers at the Treasury.
In the 1970s, it was standard fare for governments to manipulate interest rates, particularly in the run-up to a general election. Lower borrowing costs keep a lid on unemployment, and stimulate economic growth.
For close followers of financial forums, one oft-trotted line among brokers is that fixing one's mortgage has seldom been to the retrospective benefit of the homeowner in the past 25 years.
The financial crisis is a bitter memory of what can go wrong when regulators lose control of markets. It seems hard to fathom now, but a little over a decade ago, buyers could acquire mortgages to the tune of 125 per cent of the home’s value (the Northern Rock Together mortgage being one of the most infamous), with only the most lax affordability checks standing in their way.