Household Wealth Soars despite Gloom

Article excerpt

New research shows the total value of household wealth has soared five-fold during the past 50 years.

UK households collectively had assets, including property, savings and investments, worth pounds 6.316 trillion at the end of last year, up from pounds 1.251 trillion in today's prices in 1959, according to Halifax.

However, the average value of wealth held by individual households had increased by just over three times during the same period, up from pounds 72,719 to pounds 236,998.

The group said the increase in individual households' wealth was lower than the increase in total wealth due to a sharp increase in the number of households in the UK, which rose from 16.6 million in 1959 to around 26.6 million last year.

Households were also less well off at the end of 2009 than they were in 2007, after their collective wealth fell by 15 per cent between 2007 and 2008 as a result of house price and stock market falls.

Some of this drop was recouped during 2009 as the housing market recovered and shares performed strongly, but collective wealth is still eight per cent below its 2007 peak.

The value of housing wealth has soared nine-fold during the past 50 years to pounds 2.519 trillion, due to a combination of strong house price rises and increases in home ownership from 12.1 million households to 22.1 million.

Researchers said that housing wealth has also increased significantly as a proportion of total wealth, rising from 22 per cent in 1959 to 38 per cent last year due to the rapid rise in house prices compared with increases in other types of wealth.

The value of households' financial assets, such as savings, pensions and shares, has also increased four-fold in real terms since 1959 to pounds 4. …