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Liz Truss urged to ramp up help for struggling homeowners amid fears of interest rate timebomb

Low income households are facing a cliff edge of support if they fall behind with mortgage repayments. (Getty Images)
Low income households are facing a cliff edge of support if they fall behind with mortgage repayments. (Getty Images)

A leading anti-poverty charity has called on the government to provide more support for those facing increasing mortgage costs so that people don't lose their homes.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation warned the safety net for homeowners on the lowest incomes is "extremely limited" amid spiralling interest rates and the worsening cost-of-living crisis.

The average two year mortgage rate hit 6% this week, leaving homeowners across the UK facing eye watering increases in their mortgage repayments each month.

The average two-year and five-year fixed rate mortgage is more than 6% for the first time in more than 10 years (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)
The average two-year and five-year fixed rate mortgage is more than 6% for the first time in more than 10 years (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)

The number of mortgage deals available have also dropped, with hundreds withdrawn from the market in the aftermath of the government's mini-budget at the end of September which sent the UK economy into crisis.

Interest rates had already been rising due to high inflation, hitting 2.25% in September - but Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng's spree of tax cuts financed by borrowing sparked concerns it will exacerbate the issue.

It is expected the Bank of England (BoE) will continue to steeply hike interest rates, with some forecasts suggesting the base rate could hit 6% next year - sending mortgage rates soaring.

Read more: Why have interest rates gone up and how will it affect your mortgage?

Anti-poverty think tank the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) has warned that homeowners across the income scale are feeling the squeeze, but those on the lowest incomes are facing a cliff-edge of support.

Analysis from the JRF on Friday revealed that a mortgage interest rate increasing from 2.1% to 6% means a family buying with a mortgage could see their monthly mortgage payments increase from £630 to £1,100.

The think tank say this, combined with the soaring cost of energy, food and transport, is leaving low income houses facing an "acute" strain given the sparse state support available.

For a working age household to be provided with support with unaffordable mortgage payments they have to have been claiming Universal Credit (or an equivalent benefit) for nine months prior.

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Hikes in mortgage interest rates will dramatically increase housing costs for families buying their home with a mortgage. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)
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Spending on housing costs will increase across the income distribution, with families on the lowest incomes feeling the biggest squeeze. (Joseph Rowntree Foundation)

And the support is in the form of a loan, with interest - and claimants are not allowed earn any additional money beyond Universal Credit or equivalent to be eligible.

Senior economist at the JRF, Rachelle Earwaker, said the help is "extremely limited" and urged the government to provide support for those facing eye-watering costs.

"Support to help pay your mortgage in the UK is extremely limited if you fall on hard times – for working age households you need to have been on Universal Credit or equivalent for at least nine months, with no additional income over that period," said Earwaker.

"Support for renters on low incomes is also weak at the moment, as housing benefits are frozen at September 2019 levels, while rents soar across the country.

“The government must take urgent action to ensure that low-income households who are renting or who may struggle with their rising mortgage costs don’t lose their homes.

"Support for mortgage interest must be reformed, and support for renters needs to be urgently strengthened”.

Millions of homeowners will see their mortgage payments soar in the next two years (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)
Millions of homeowners will see their mortgage payments soar in the next two years (Yahoo News UK/Flourish)

It comes as Labour warn homeowners coming off two-year fixed term mortgages across the UK could face mortgage hikes of £500 a month.

Read more: Interest rate rises only way to tame UK inflation, warns Bank of England deputy governor

“These eye-watering mortgage increases will cause homeowners across the country sleepless nights – and the Tory Government is entirely to blame," said Labour leader Keir Starmer.

“Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng crashed the economy with their attempts to hand enormous, unfunded tax cuts to those who least need it."

He added: “The Prime Minister must reverse her kamikaze budget, including her totally unfunded £17 billion corporation tax giveaway to the biggest companies.

"The burden of the Tories’ fantasy economics should not fall on working people.”

Watch: Mortgages withdrawn from sale as market reels after mini-budget