British consumers showcase their robustness as saving ratio rises

Rebecca Smith
Consumers are still hitting the high street
Consumers are still hitting the high street (Source: Getty)

Households saved more of their disposable income in the second quarter, according to fresh figures out today from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

For April through to June, the households saving ratio was 5.4 per cent, up from 3.8 per cent in the prior quarter. Incomes also rose faster than prices for the first time in a year.

The figures suggest British consumer spending could continue to remain resilient, with households having enough in their tank to keep spending up without increasing debt levels.

Read more: British consumer confidence jumps to six-month high

Meanwhile, GfK’s index out today, compiled on behalf of the European Commission, also showed consumer confidence edged up by one point during the month.

And figures from the Bank of England showed mortgage approvals for August dipped on July's figures, while the annual growth rate of consumer credit remained at 9.8 per cent.

Mortage approvals were broadly in line with recent averages, at 66,580, though they fell slightly on July's figure of 68,452.

Consumer credit growth was 9.8 per cent, the same as in July, with a flow of £1.6bn in August.

Debt bubble

It comes after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said this morning the UK does not have a household debt bubble, despite a warning sounded earlier this week by the BoE's financial policy committee.

"Since the crisis British households have paid down a tremendous amount of debt," Carney said.

"The level of debt burden relative to income in this economy has gone down by 20 percentage points... In the past year the overall level of debt has just begun to grow in line with GDP."

The committee said on Monday banks must hold another £10bn to cover potential losses. Losses across the whole consumer credit sector could reach £30bn, £10bn higher than previous estimates, under the stress test scenario of sharply rising interest rates and unemployment, it added.

The BoE has been concerned about double-digit growth in consumer credit, at a time when GDP growth has been markedly weaker.

The most recent figures from last month showed mortgage approvals had jumped to a 16-month high, while consumer credit growth slowed. Some 68,689 mortgages were approved in July, up from 65,318 in June and a seven-month low of 65,140 in April.

Meanwhile, figures from UK Finance released earlier this week said mortgage lending has risen to its second highest level since April 2008.

Read more: Mortgage approvals jump to 16-month high, Bank of England figures show

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