BRITONS are pessimistic about the year ahead, with dwindling disposable income and signs that up to five million households could fall behind with mortgage or rent payments, according to a poll published today.
With nine days to go until value added tax (VAT) rises to 20 pe rcent and slower than expected pre-Christmas retail sales, a wide-ranging poll conducted by Populus for The (London) Times found two-thirds of those surveyed predicting that the economy will fare badly over 2011, the most pessimistic finding for 18 months.
Two-thirds also expect to have less spending money, while women and those aged between 35 and 54 are especially downbeat about their financial year ahead.
It suggests that an alarmingly high number of people expect to fall behind with some bills, with 38 per cent, or up to 10 million of Britain’s 26 million households, predicting that they will struggle to pay all of them on time.
Five million households – 21 per cent – believe they will find it difficult to meet mortgage repayments and rent.
The snapshot comes even before a rise in interest rates from their historic low levels, which the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) expects will start in the spring, hitting 2.75 percent by the end of 2012. There are also industry expectations that mortgage lenders will start to lose patience with those in arrears and repossessions will rise.
But as more than a million shoppers joined the Boxing Day surge to the sales, Britons appear far from ready to cut back drastically on their spending in anticipation of the austerity year they suggest is to come.