Simon Read: The pressures are beginning to ease

Mortgage payments have fallen to their second lowest level on record, according to figures published this week by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Borrowers who bought a new home in November spent an average of less than 11 per cent of their income on paying the interest element of their mortgage, the lowest level for 13 years and the second lowest since records began in 1974.

It's a pleasing sign that the financial pressures are beginning to ease, and is backed up by indications that we have finally crawled out of recession and back into growth. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research said the economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the last three months of 2009, the first quarter of growth since the beginning of 2008. They're not official figures – they will be published by the Office of National Statistics at the end of the month. But they are a sign that the financial chill is beginning to thaw.

But the further good news from the mortgage industry is that the credit crunch has forced a massive retreat from the trend of buying properties as investments back to the traditional idea of buying properties as homes. This is as it should be, I believe. Investors snapping up properties to build up a buy-to-let portfolio were one of the key reasons that led us to the position we're in today, where people hoping to buy their first property have been frozen out of the market by high prices. Once the market has settled down and banks and building societies start lending again and not demanding massive deposits, the prospects for first-timers should look more positive.

Meanwhile the beginning of next week has been dubbed Blue Monday – the most miserable day of the year. The date was calculated by using a variety of factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), the length of time since Christmas, the length of time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Does it sound credible? It's not. It was a PR campaign originally created to encourage people to book a holiday in the quiet January period.

Now some debt firms have been taking it up as an excuse to encourage people to do something about their debts. It just goes to show that even from the most cynical of beginnings, good can come. It gives me an excuse to list the free sources of debt advice available to anyone worried about money.

The arrival of Christmas bills and credit card statements can cause panic and problems in struggling households. But if they know there is advice at hand and ways out of their nightmare because of the Blue Monday PR campaign, then it's likely that some of them will seek help. By the time next year's most miserable day arrives, many of them may have even sorted out their debt problems.

Where can you get free advice? At any Citizens Advice Bureau or by phone or online from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (0800 138 1111: www.cccs.co.uk); National Debt Line (0808 808 4000: www,nationaldebtline.co.uk); or Payplan (0800 280 2816: www.payplan.com).

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

    Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

    £50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

    £13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

    Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

    £40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...