Lunchtime news Tuesday 30 October 2014

Even after yesterday’s news that repossessions are set to soar by 75 per cent this year, Britons are refusing to rein in their spending. Each day a further £373 million is added to the debt the country faces, increasing the amount of total debt, including mortgages, to £1.38 trillion. The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) also forecast a 15 per cent rise in the number of households who are at least three months in arrears on their home loans. And new research by online mortgage company estimate that there are 33,000 first-time buyers who borrowed 100 per cent or more of their mortgage, and are now at serious risk of negative equity if there is a drop in house prices.

First-time buyers are in fact becoming an ‘endangered species’ according to the New Homes Marketing Board (NHMB), a marketing arm of Homes Builders Federation. In a recent poll of young people, more than 80 per cent feared they could end up never being able to leave rented accommodation. As many more young people stay at their parents’ homes – the figure has increased 20 per cent since the early 1990s – the number of first-time buyers entering the market has fallen, going down by nearly 15 per cent since 2000.

Europe’s biggest bank, UBS, is not immune to the credit crisis either. They have just announced a third quarter pre-tax loss of £300 million, as a result of exposure to the US housing and subprime mortgage market. The bank expects to make a profit in the final quarter of the year, but warns there may be further short term adjustments.

A report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found a mix of private and social housing on estates is essential to stop young people leaving deprived areas to get better jobs. Concentrations of worklessness were created by housing policies which lumped disadvantaged members of society together, so young people were more inclined to think that getting on the housing ladder was their only means of escape.

And finally, thousands of residents in Rome face eviction from their homes as the Vatican is accused of indulging in a ‘speculative frenzy’. While the evictions are not being carried out by the church but by property agents linked to it, it comes at an embarrassing time for the Vatican, after a spokesperson recently said that the lack of low cost housing in Italy was a tragedy for ‘those pensioners or single-income families… who cannot find alternative [accommodation]… and it certainly was not in line with the teaching of the popes on the right to housing’.