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This week’s roundup includes news of a widespread gloomy outlook on household finances, a considerable drop in the number of young Britons who own a home, an improvement in cash ISA rates and a reminder that the deadline for paper £10 notes is on 1st March.

UK households ‘adopt gloomy outlook on finances’

British households’ negativity about their financial situation deepened this month, as most now predict the cost of borrowing will rise again within six months following the Bank of England’s (BoE) decision to raise interest rates in November.

This is according the Household Finance Index from IHS Markit, which found financial wellbeing fell to a seven-month low of 42.2 in February, down from 42.9 in January.

Findings from the data company revealed 60% of households expected a rise in the cost of borrowing within six months, up from 45% in January.

Britain’s economy slowed in 2017 due to higher inflation, which was fuelled by the declining value of the pound after the Brexit vote. The BoE said it expects the squeeze will ease in 2018 as inflation cools and weak wage growth starts to improve.

Homeownership among young Britons ‘plummets in 20 years’

The rate of homeownership among young, middle-income adults in Britain has more than halved in the past two decades.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), only 27% of Britons aged between 24 and 34 with incomes in the middle bracket for their age owned a home in 2015/16, down from 65% in 1995/96.

The IFS said that for 90% of 25 to 34-year-olds, average house prices were more than four times their after-tax income, while this was true for under half of 25 to 34-year-olds in the mid-1990s.

Rising house prices are a widespread concern in Britain, especially for younger workers in expensive areas such as London and much of southern England.

Cash ISA savings rates ‘begin to improve’

Interest rates on cash Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) are beginning to increase. This is according to data provider Moneyfacts, which said return on average ISAs increased from 0.68% in December to 0.78% in February.

In what appears to be good news for savers, fixed-rate ISAs of at least 18 months saw rates increase from 1.38% in December to 1.46% in February. Savers have until April to use their 2017-18 ISA allowances.

News of the improvements follows more than ten years of low interest rates, which have discouraged many individuals from putting money away.

Charlotte Nelson, Finance Expert at Moneyfacts, said the end of the Funding for Lending Scheme for mortgages in January and the closure of the Term Funding Scheme at the end of February were contributing factors to the change.

She added: “The ISA market may have reached a turning point, with all average ISA rates increasing for a second month in a row.”

Deadline to return old £10 notes approaches

At least £2.1 billion worth of old £10 notes needs to be spent or exchanged before 1st March, when they will cease to be legal tender.

According to the Bank of England (BoE), weekly returns of paper £10 notes are averaging at a value of £85 million or 8.5 million notes. Plastic polymer notes depicting author Jane Austen entered circulation in September 2017.

To exchange the old £10 note, people can either post the notes to the Bank of England, or visit the Bank in person in the City of London. The Bank will exchange all old £10 notes indefinitely.

The BoE says people can also try to exchange paper £10 notes at their local bank or Post Office, however, they are not legally required to accept old notes after the deadline. 

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