Reuters report today that mortgage equity withdrawal has hit a new record of £16BN in Q4 2003, the total for 2003 being £53BN.
This being approximately 8% of household disposable income.
The withdrawn equity is being used to finance consumer spending. It is expected to top £60BN in 2004.
I would caution against this practice; borrowing long to spend short is very unwise, and is unlikely to be sustainable.
As and when the endowment mis-selling "chickens come home to roost", there is going to be a shortfall of at least £40BN which someone is going to have to finance.
Those that have overloaded their finances with extra long term debt, in order to satisfy short term whims, may find the future very bleak indeed.