Kate Glover named equity release supervision and development manager at The Right Mortgage

The Right Mortgage and Protection Network has welcomed the latest addition to their growing equity release specialist division.

The Later Life Lending Network, the equity release proposition of The Right Mortgage and Protection Network, continues to grow with their latest addition to the team joining in March 2021.

As their new Equity Release Supervision and Development Manager, Kate Glover will be responsible for providing ongoing support to The Right Mortgage and Protection Network’s members, as well as aiding in the growth of their later life lending proposition.

Before joining the network, Kate has had a long history of working in the financial services, having worked for 32 years at Swinton Insurance, before joining Age Partnership in 2017.

“I am really excited to be working for The Right Mortgage and Protection Network as an Equity Release Supervision and Development Manager and look forward to getting to know the team and also The Right Mortgage members. I will be here to answer any queries to ensure we are conducting business in a compliant manner as well as to assist in the increase of equity release business within my team of members.”

– Kate Glover, Equity Release Supervision and Development Manager at The Right Mortgage

“I am delighted to have a new Equity Release Supervision and Development Manager join our growing equity release proposition, The Later Life Lending Network. With this latest addition to our team, and the wealth of experience they bring to the role, I’m looking forward to further supporting our members and helping them grow their businesses. Welcome to the team Kate.”

– Victoria Wilson, Equity Release Manager at The Later Life Lending Network

The Money Stats – March 2021 – Household Financial Crunch Continues Despite Extended Supports

Evidence continues to emerge demonstrating the scale of the crunch on household finances and its likely consequences as the UK emerges from the pandemic, according to the March 2021 Money Statistics, produced by The Money Charity.

The March Budget brought welcome news of extended supports and measures, now lasting until September 2021, which will assist household’s finances as the UK moves onwards from a deeply challenging year. However, the picture of the sheer depth of issues which are forthcoming remains a concerning one.

Since March 2020, 11.1 million households have accumulated £25 billion in debt and arrears due to the pandemic, an average of £2,300 per affected household. 460,000 private sector renters were behind on their rent in January 2021, while 2.3 million people have fallen behind on their broadband bills, with internet connectivity having progressed from its previous perceived status as a luxury to an essential utility.

As in previous months, these numbers showing hardship stand alongside those indicators which show financial improvement for the households where members have stayed employed and saved money during the pandemic.

The average household savings rate was 16.5% in Q3 2020. Meanwhile outstanding credit card balances fell by 22.4% in the year to January 2021 and the average first-time buyer house price rose by 6.8% in the same period.

Michelle Highman, Chief Executive of The Money Charity says: “While the extended support measures announced in the Budget are very welcome, increased debt levels and evidence of financial hardship suggest that new forms of creative support will be sorely needed in the year ahead.

“The numbers of those in difficulty are alarmingly large, in the hundreds of thousands if not millions, meaning that maintaining ‘business as usual’ support just won’t be sufficient. For the UK to continue developing its Financial Wellbeing, it is imperative that we avoid a household insolvency and eviction crisis, by ensuring that people are supported to keep their homes and incomes until the economy has had time to fully recover.”

Other striking numbers from the March Money Statistics:

  • 7 in 10 Universal Credit claimants seeking advice from Citizens Advice had not previously made a benefits claim. (P4.1.)
  • Net lending to individuals and housing associations in the UK grew by £76.8 million a day in January 2021. (P4.)
  • Government debt increased by £789 million a day in the year to February 2021. (P4.)

Credit card borrowing falls a fifth, a new record, despite more lockdown pick-me-ups

We repaid £1.2 billion of consumer debt in February. It’s below the average since March last year of £1.8 billion. However, our borrowing has still fallen a record 9.9% in a year and card borrowing is down 21% in a year – another record fall.

We put £17.1 billion into savings in February (even taking £1.4 billion in NS&I withdrawals into account, we saved £15.8 billion more). This is down slightly since January, however, remains far higher than the average of £4.8 billion in the six months before the crisis.

Average easy access accounts paid 0.12% for the fifth month running and average new fixed rates fell to 0.34% – a new low.

Net mortgage borrowing was £6.2 billion in February – its highest monthly figure in almost five years.

The number of mortgages approved for purchases has dropped from the peak in November 2020, but remains well above the pre-crisis level.

The Bank of England has issued its credit report for February.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “Lockdown in February was just too miserable for us to sit tight and count our savings, so we loosened the purse strings a bit and invested in a few lockdown pick-me-ups.

We repaid slightly less debt than in January and saved slightly less too. As the lockdown wore on through another cold and dark month, we decided to put our cash to good use and cheer ourselves – and our homes – up a bit instead.

Retail sales figures from last week show we poured a small fortune into DIY and garden purchases, so we had a nicer four walls – or four fences – to stare at. However, we didn’t go overboard: savings still continued to build and we paid off large chunks of debt too. Consumer borrowing is down a record amount in a year; at almost 10%.

Savings

The exodus from NS&I continued, as we used our extra time in lockdown to find a more rewarding home for our cash. Unfortunately, there was less impetus to switch into fixed rate accounts – because the gap between easy access and fixed rates closed even further.

There are still very good reasons to switch. If you’re earning 0.01% in a high street bank you can get forty times the interest in a competitive easy access account with no restrictions. And once you have an emergency fund of 3-6 months’ worth of essential expenses, you can consider getting more than sixty times the interest by fixing for a year or longer.

Mortgages

The number of mortgages approved for home purchases fell back slightly in February, but this was only to be expected in the month before the Treasury confirmed the stamp duty holiday extension. Even then, the total value of mortgages being approved hit their highest in almost five years, so the market was hardly sluggish.

Ever since the property market was shut down this time last year we’ve been playing catch up, and there’s every sign that once the holiday extension was announced in March, we’re likely to have seen another flurry of approvals.”

BoE Comment: “Housing market has weathered the storm”

Commenting on the Bank of England Money and Credit figures for February, Jonathan Sealey CEO of specialist short term lender Hope Capital, said: “A year on since the start of the pandemic, it is encouraging to see mortgage approvals significantly higher in February at 87,000, than the same point a-year-ago. Coupled with mortgage borrowing at the strongest level for five years (since March 2016), it’s clear that the housing market has weathered the storm of the past 12 months.

“Having just gone into lockdown in March 2020, it was hard to know what was going to happen to the property market as things like viewings or even visiting an estate agent became effectively banned.

“But today, as the first set of lockdown restrictions start to lift in England and Wales, we can see that the housing market – driven to a large extent by the SDLT holiday – has not only bounced back but continues to grow.

“All those involved in the sector should take credit for that, and initiatives such as virtual viewings and the introduction of new products during the lockdown, have contributed to the property market staying operational.

“It’s also been an opportunity for specialist lenders particularly who have been able demonstrate the agility and speed that sets them apart from high street lenders, in ensuring people can get their deals over the line, no matter what else is happening.”

Comment on the BoE Money & Credit figures for February

Following the BoE Money & Credit figures this morning, Richard Pike, Phoebus Software sales and marketing director, says “The housing market, fuelled by government incentives, continues to move at a pace. With competition from buyers increasing it really is a seller’s market. This demand is naturally pushing house prices up in most areas, only the capital has seen prices falling as buyers look to escape city life following the pandemic, but the question has to be how much more can prices increase?

“With the ONS reporting that buyers may need to spend 7.8 times their annual earnings to buy a house in England, and 5.9 times in Wales, the question of long-term affordability raises its head again, at the same time as we are seeing more high LTV products coming to market. Surprisingly, the same report said that average earnings growth in 2020 outpaced house price growth in 60 per cent of districts. So it will be interesting to see how much more demand will push prices upwards. It would be reasonable to think that the ceiling is close and to expect to see house prices level off. However, it is likely to be the second half of the year, when stamp duty returns to normal, arrears levels start to increase and schemes such as furlough are withdrawn, that we will see the true effect on the housing market.”

BoE Comment: Housing market “impressive juggernaut”

Following the latest Bank of England statistics, John Phillips, national operations director, Just Mortgages and Spicerhaart said: “The housing market is an impressive juggernaut that continues to march forward. While mortgage approvals are down slightly from the peak in November 2020, they are still higher than anyone expected. Undoubtedly, action has been encouraged by the stamp duty holiday and the extension should ensure there is no huge drop-off for the moment.

“However, this is only part of the story. A year on from the start of the first lockdown, what is clear is that the pandemic has spurred people into action. Whether it is those looking to move for more outside space. Or the lack of commute meaning some are choosing to leave the city, in a year where our lives were turned upside down, priorities were shaken up.

“With the extension to the stamp duty holiday, the reintroduction of 95% LTV mortgages and the furlough scheme running till September, the property market should keep moving at a pace and we may see records broken for the first quarter of 2021.”

Britons worry finances will not recover as households count cost of Covid one year on

One in five adults in Britain (20 percent), equating to an estimated 10.2 million people, say they are worried their finances will not fully recover from the impact of Covid-19, according to new research from the Money Advice Trust.

The research, based on a poll of more than 2,000 adults conducted online by YouGov, and insight from the charity’s National Debtline and Business Debtline services, found that one in eight adults (12 percent) have had to use credit to pay for essential household bills or goods, including groceries, energy bills and council tax, since the Coroanvirus pandemic began. This equates to an estimated 6.2 million people.

One year on from the start of the first lockdown, these findings confirm that the financial effects of the pandemic have been felt far from equally. While a quarter of people (27 percent) say they are better off financially as a result of Covid-19, almost a third (31 percent) say they are worse off.

In the charity’s new report, ‘The cost of Covid’ (attached), the Money Advice Trust outlines the experiences of people whose finances have been hit hardest by the pandemic. This includes concerns around what will happen to households already struggling when emergency support measures are lifted later in the year.

While the financial situation of many would have been far worse were it not for the support put in place by government, regulators and creditors, the charity is calling for coordinated action to provide safe routes out of debt in the wake of Covid-19.

Relying on credit to plug gaps

While some people have seen their finances and ability to save improve over the past year, for others the burden of debt continues to increase as they struggle to make ends meet. One in nine (11 percent) adults say they are behind on one or more essential household bill or personal credit commitment as a result of the pandemic.

Many are relying on credit to plug gaps in their finances – one in eight (12 percent) say they had to use credit to pay for essential household bills or goods, with groceries, utility bills, and council tax the most common. Worryingly, of those people using credit to pay for essential costs, just over a third (37 percent) had used high-cost credit*, including one in nine (11 percent) using buy-now-pay-later schemes. An estimated 655,000 (1 percent) have had to use credit to pay for essential items (excluding groceries) for their child.

Job loss and income shocks driving debt problems

One of the key factors affecting many people struggling as a result of the pandemic has been income uncertainty. Job loss and income shocks have been common reasons for financial difficulty cited by people contacting National Debtline. The proportion of unemployed callers to National Debtline rose from 34 percent last March to 42 percent by December – while the proportion of callers in full-time employment fell from 39 percent to 32 percent.

A long road to recovery

With one in five adults (20 percent – an estimated 10.2 million people) worried their finances will never fully recover from the outbreak, the charity fears it could be a long road to recovery for many, including self-employed people and small business owners. Earlier findings from the charity show that nearly four in ten self-employed people (37 percent) expect it to be more than a year before their business income returns to pre-Covid levels – while nine percent do not expect this at all.

Without a clear roadmap out of debt for people struggling as a result of the outbreak, millions are likely to be left living with the financial consequences of the outbreak far beyond the lifting of lockdown restrictions.

The charity says that while it will continue to do all it can to help those in financial difficulty through its services, there needs to be coordinated action by government, regulators and industry to help people get out of debt safely and back onto a stable financial footing. Measures the charity is calling for include:

  • A fairer and more affordable approach to collecting debts owed to central and local government in the wake of Covid-19, including through a new Government Debt Management Bill to reform debt collection practices.
  • Specific help for renters who have fallen into debt as a result of the pandemic, in the form of no-interest loans and grants to clear rent arrears.
  • A dedicated Covid-19 Self-employment Recovery Strategy, and a discretionary grant scheme to support owner-directors who remain excluded from the government’s support measures.

Joanna Elson CBE, chief executive of the Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs National Debtline and Business Debtline, said: “A year on from when the Covid-19 outbreak began, the finances of millions of households have been turned upside down, with the effects not felt equally. While some people have found themselves able to save more, others have fallen into financial difficulty – with many struggling to cover food and energy costs.

“It is clear that this is not just a health crisis but a financial one, too. Our findings suggest more than 10 million people are worried their finances will not recover, with more than 5 million already behind on bills – and this is only likely to increase. Without coordinated action now to help people get back on a stable financial footing, there is a danger of problem debt becoming one the pandemic’s many lasting legacies.

“Support measures put in place by government, regulators and creditors have undoubtedly helped ease the financial pressures on many households, however, without a clear roadmap out of debt, for millions of people these challenges are set to continue long after lockdown measures ease.”

ONS: house prices fall for the first time in nine months

Average house prices in January fell from £250,000 to £249,309.

Prices were still up 7.5% in a year – but this was down from 8% in December.

The lowest prices are in the North East, where average prices have fallen back below their peak before the financial crisis in 2007 – to £138,000.

The highest prices are in London, where the average house prices rose again to £501,000.

The gap between houses and flats widened again. The price of detached properties was up 8.6% in a year, while flats and maisonettes were up just 2.6%.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “Lockdown closed the door on some housing market activity in January, cutting prices for the first time in nine months.

“The market was technically open for business, but many sellers weren’t keen to let people traipse through their home, buyers hadn’t yet had the good news of the stamp duty holiday extension, and even when sales were agreed, the same old problems kicked in, with the sales process flowing like treacle.

“February is going to be a mixed bag. The virus kept us locked down and the Chancellor didn’t announce the stamp duty holiday extension until the start of March. However, buyers who were rushing for the old stamp duty deadline produced bumper sales, which could mean higher prices.

“As spring kicks in, we’re likely to see the market blossom again, as the stamp duty holiday extension allows the underlying drivers of growth to kick in. By the end of February, property sales so far this tax year were still down 7% from the same stage in the previous one, and it was still the quietest year since 2013, so there are still plenty of buyers keen to join the race for space, and snap up a bigger home in a leafier area.”

Busiest February on record for property, as buyers rush for defunct deadline

122,840 properties sold in February – the highest February figure since it was first measured this way in 2005.

Seasonally adjusted property sales were up 23% between January and February and an astonishing 48.5% in a year.

Sales are still 7% lower in the current financial year so far than the previous one: it’s still the quietest year since 2013.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown: “It was the busiest February on record for the property market, as the now defunct stamp duty deadline lit a fire under the buying and selling process.

“February was always going to be at fever pitch, because for more than six months, buyers had a laser focus on getting across the finish line before the end of March. Thousands of people have been bringing forward sales, while thousands more had them pushed back from earlier in the tax year when the housing market was put into suspended animation.

“The deadline was moved during the Budget speech this month. This won’t have slowed the rush of buyers already in the process, but it will have an impact on figures between now and June. Those who face wobbles along the way, now know they have time to complete, even if they hit a bump in the road. This is going to hold more chains together and could mean more bumper months as we go through spring.”

Comment: Housing figures highlight a property market that is in rude health

Following the HMRC property transaction figures released today Jonathan Sealey, CEO at specialist lender Hope Capital, said: “On the day that we mark one year since the first lockdown was introduced in the UK, it is most welcome news this morning that not only were residential property transactions up in February by almost 50% more than 12 months ago, but it’s actually the highest February level for ten years.

“After a year of living with coronavirus restrictions and an unprecedented economic downturn, today’s figures highlight a property market that is in rude health. However, the spike in transactions in February will have been driven by house-buyers looking to beat the SDLT holiday deadline in March, so it will be interesting to see the impact of the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that will be extended into the summer.

“But with all eyes now on the Prime Minister’s road map out of the crisis, it is a real positive that one of the key drivers of the economy has started the year with such high levels of activity, which can only be good for the wider economy.

“Despite lockdown conditions, people still want to go ahead with their property purchases and increasingly are looking to alternative ways of achieving that, by working with specialist lenders who can offer a more flexible, and agile approach than high street lenders.”