The Mortgage Prisoners

People face eviction if they fail to keep up with inflated repayments Photo: Reuters

Mortgage rates are rising even though the official Bank of England base rate remains the same - of course it languishes at its all time low of 0.5%. And yet the rises coming into force today will impact household incomes of more than a million borrowers across five different lenders.

And this is just the start - mortgage industry experts say other lenders are set to follow this rising trend of rates- with one estimate suggesting it will add £300 million to household expenses across the UK this year.

People may struggle to afford repayments on their homes Credit: Reuters

Today we spoke to the mortgage industry spokesman Paul Smee to ask - how come your rates are rising even though the bank of England rate has not? He says the cost of borrowing has increased due to the financial crisis in Europe.

The big example today is Halifax, because it's Britain's biggest mortgage company. From today its standard variable rate rises by just under 0.5%. This is the rate people move onto when their initial discounted rate expires.

On a £200,000 mortgage it could add £55 a month. 850,000 customers are effected as that SIR rate moves from 3.5% to 3.99%. That would add £24.30 a month (£300 a year) on a £100,000 mortgage.

Halifax customers will be some of the most affected Credit: Reuters

The worry for many borrowers - isn't just that their rates are rising but that many could find themselves as what become known as "mortgage prisoners" - people unable to find a new lender because mortgage firms have toughened their loan criteria - so some may have no escape from the new increased rates.

RBS-Natwest customers will also feel the pinch Credit: Reuters

Along with Halifax, RBS-Natwest have increased rates for 200,000 customers (though not SVR mortgages).

Some customers at Co-op bank and Clysdale/Yorkshire will also be hit by rises....and I spoke just now to the Bank of Ireland which told me it has notified customers of its intention to increase the Standard Variable Rate (SVR) on its UK residential mortgages by 1.5 per cent by September.

The announcements we have had so far - look like being just the start.