No financial respite for households at the start of 2019, index finds

Households have started 2019 feeling downbeat about their finances amid heightened worries about job security and the housing market, according to an index.

The IHS Markit household finance index, which measures households’ perceptions of financial wellbeing, recorded an overall reading of 44.8 in January.

Readings above 50 suggest an improvement while those below 50 indicate a worsening situation.

The index asks 1,500 people aged 18 to 64 across Britain about their perceptions, and the latest survey took place between January 10 and 14 2019.

Financial wellbeing is also expected to worsen in 12 months’ time, with an index reading of 46.4 on this measure.

The index also found growing concerns about job security – as households were found to be the most pessimistic about their prospects in nearly a year.

Meanwhile, the part of the index measuring current house price perceptions fell to 50.2 in January – which, although still positive, was the lowest reading since July 2016.

Households in Scotland, London and the North East of England generally expect house prices to fall over the coming year, the index found.

Joe Hayes, an economist at IHS Markit said: “There was no financial respite at the beginning of 2019 for UK households, with survey data showing current finances once again deteriorating.

“Expectations remain anchored upon this downbeat trend continuing throughout the year ahead.”

Mr Hayes continued: “Political deadlock over Brexit merely adds extra uncertainty to an already unfavourable financial environment for UK households.

“However, improvements may come to the fore in coming months if uncertainty about the path of Brexit becomes more clear.”