Money Insider: The economic roller coaster looks set to continue into 2014

Many are concerned the Help to Buy scheme is storing up trouble

Almost six years on from the banking crisis, UK savers have spent another 12 months enduring rock-bottom savings returns because of the 1990s credit binge, but have we learnt our lesson?

Many commentators are concerned that the Government’s Help to Buy scheme is storing up trouble for the future by forcing the gap between average incomes and property prices even wider.

This could lead to another housing bubble with too many people relying on cheap mortgage finance to purchase overpriced property.

According to the Halifax House Price index, in three months to November prices were up 7.7 per cent on the same period last year and this is before Help to Buy gets into full swing.

It’s not been a good year for those renting property either with rental costs up by 3.9 per cent in the 12 months, according to the HomeLet Rental Index.

On the personal finance front it’s been a bit of a mixed bag, with selected borrowers enjoying some very low interest rates at the expense of savers, who continue to bear the brunt of borrower-biased economic policy.

Although base rate remained stuck fast at 0.50 per cent, the appetite from banks and building societies for retail savings balances remained stifled during 2013 because of the Funding for Lending scheme.

On a more positive note, if you applied for an unsecured loan in 2013, you may have been one of the lucky ones to have benefited from some  of the lowest rates ever witnessed.

If you had a good credit record and were looking to borrow £7,500 or more, increased competition meant that in some cases you could have borrowed at as low as 4.5 per cent.

It was a very different story if you wanted a loan of £3,000 or less with the average rate for an advance of this size topping 16 per cent APR and in some cases the cost was within a whisker of 30 per cent APR.

With savers and some borrowers increasingly frustrated and disillusioned with the poor-value rates on offer from banks and building societies it was no surprise that business has been brisk among the peer-to-peer providers.

With savers able to earn more than double the rate on offer on the high street and smaller loans being offered at half those being charged by the banks, 2013 was the year that the likes of Zopa, RateSetter and Assetz Capital came to the fore

With the Government’s planned austerity drive possibly causing more misery on the unemployment front and Europe still in a precarious financial situation, the bumpy ride on the economic roller coaster in 2013 looks set to continue well into the new year.

Andrew Hagger is an independent personal finance analyst from moneycomms.co.uk

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