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Economic Outlook for the UK in 2024


Economic Outlook for the UK in 2024:
Economic Outlook UK 2024


January 2024 Blog
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Challenges, Opportunities, and the Path Forward.

 

In the realm of economic forecasts for the UK in 2024, experts paint a picture of stagnation, with various factors contributing to a complex landscape including inflation, living standards, government policies, and the real estate market.

 

Despite lower inflation and potential wage increases, a sense of economic gloom prevails, impacting different segments of the population in distinct ways.

 

Living Standards and the Cost-of-Living Crisis

As the UK economy experiences a motionless state leading up to the next general election, economists anticipate that lower inflation may offer only marginal relief to living standards. Despite an increase in wages for some, the cost-of-living crisis continues to cast a shadow over the populace. While minimum wage hikes and favourable savings rates for pensioners bring positive news, renters and households renewing mortgages face heightened costs, contributing to an uneven recovery landscape.

 

Economic Growth and Inflation

Economists project a flat lining of growth or, at best, a modest 0.5% increase in 2024. The recent fall in inflation is expected to persist over the next 18 months, influencing spending trends and overall economic sentiment. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's national insurance tax cuts aim to stimulate the economy, but the impact may be limited by the simultaneous rise in unemployment, tax burden, rents, and mortgage interest rates. A feel-good factor leading up to the general election seems elusive as living standards remain stagnant for most citizens. The government wants you to think otherwise.

 

Interest Rates and Monetary Policy

The Bank of England's potential gradual interest rate cuts from mid-year reflect a cautious approach, with markets anticipating a reduction from 5.25%   to 3.75%   by year-end. Low unemployment, coupled with spiky energy prices due to geopolitical conflicts, adds complexity to the inflation dynamics. Despite lower inflation rates, a sustained improvement in disposable income is crucial for individuals to perceive a positive change in their financial well-being.

 

Housing Market and Real Estate

UK house prices witnessed a 1.8% decline in 2023, with expectations of a similar trend or stagnation in the coming year. Prime Central London (PCL) areas such as Mayfair, Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Chelsea, and Kensington experienced more significant corrections, highlighting the sensitivity of certain regions to economic nuances. Mortgage rates' impact on homebuyers, coupled with regional variations in price trends, underscores the challenges faced by those entering the property market. PCL homes that are ‘blighted’ by negative details have fared far worse, with corrections ranging from 5%-12% - lethargy breeds contempt with cash rich buyers! The best-in-class assets have seen either a slight tick-up on capital growth or marginal falls from the previous year. 

 

Affordability and Market Dynamics

The affordability crisis deepens as the average deposit for first-time buyers reaches 105%   of their annual gross income. Monthly mortgage payments, at 38% of take-home pay, surpass the long-run average of 30%. The market exhibits signs of polarization, with mortgage transactions decreasing compared to pre-pandemic levels. Cash buyers play a crucial role in stabilizing prices, but the overall market reflects a cautious sentiment.

 

Government Policies and Public Investment

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's tax cuts and expected announcements in the March Budget aim to create an impression of economic recovery. However, the simultaneous rise in unemployment, tax burden, and living costs poses challenges. The call for planning reform in the real estate industry is viewed by some as a positive contributor to future economic growth. Nevertheless, a more sustained increase in public investment, potentially surpassing the average of OECD nations at 3.5% of GDP, is considered vital for long-term economic growth.

 

Conclusion: Charting the Path Forward

In conclusion, the UK's economic landscape in 2024 is marked by a delicate balance of challenges and opportunities. While wage increases and potentially further tax cuts will offer some respite, the persisting cost-of-living crisis and uncertainties in the BOE base rate, create a fickle scenario. Policymakers face the task of navigating these complexities, with public investment emerging as a crucial factor for sustained economic growth. As the nation looks toward the future, a comprehensive and adaptive approach will be essential to foster a more inclusive and resilient economy.

 

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