UK Economy

UK household finances less squeezed in December, outlook for 2016 cloudy

LONDON (Reuters) - Anxiety among British households about the state of their finances fell this month to its lowest level since July, although their optimism about the outlook for 2016 waned a little, a survey showed on Wednesday.

The Markit Household Finance Index rose to 45.0 in December from 44.1 in November, a five-month high and helped by low inflation and rising income from employment.

Doubts about job security also eased to their lowest level since the survey started in early 2009, during the depths of Britain’s worst recession in decades.

Still, only employees in finance and business services reported an outright improvement in overall financial well-being.

The survey’s measure of household financial well-being over the next 12 months dipped, dragged down by public sector employees.

“(With) wage growth flatlining somewhat, households were downbeat regarding the outlook for financial wellbeing,” Philip Leake, economist at Markit said.

The survey also showed 61 percent of survey respondents expected the Bank of England to raise interest rates from their record low 0.5 percent in 2016, up from 52 percent in November.

That looked at odds with a Bank of England survey that took place in November, which showed the proportion of Britons expecting an interest rate hike in the next 12 months fell to its lowest level in two years.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Alison Williams