COMMENT: County levels of mortgage debt are a cause for concern

OXFORDSHIRE has lots and lots of mortgage debt. New figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders certainly make for interesting reading.

For anyone with the slightest shred of an understanding of economics, it is also rather worrying. A total debt mountain of £10bn in a single county is, in one respect, staggering.

In some countries – in France for instance – owning a house is not as much of an obsession as it is here.

But in the UK, we like to have bricks and mortar that we can call our own.

That means large chunks of cash are sent every month from county home buyers to banks that have approved mortgages.

And that, in short, means lots of debt.

It isn’t as simple as that, of course.

Debt sounds bad, but governments survive on colossal debts without the wider world even noticing.

Mortgages, like government debts, are things that we expect will be paid back.

As we saw when the credit crunch hit, though, this is not always the case.

The crunch was built up on the back of mortgages being handed out to people who could never realistically pay them back. Banks simply got greedy.

In many ways, it is different in Oxfordshire. This is an affluent county where many can afford to live with large mortgages.

Yet many cannot – and for them these figures will seem particularly hard to swallow.

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