Ian RutterImage copyright
Ian Rutter

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Ian Rutter has cut his spending due to Brexit worries.

“We are heading for instability.”

Ian Rutter is a healthcare worker at a hospital in Harrogate, and he is very worried about the economic effects of Brexit.

So much so, he has taken on more weekend agency work to set money aside, and has cut his spending.

With the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and increased trade tensions with the US, along with recession warning signs in other economies, he believes the UK economy is “almost heading for the perfect storm”.

“Jacob Rees-Mogg [the Brexit-supporting leader of the House of Commons] has said we will be better off in 50 years time. I’ll be dead in 50 years time, I’d rather be better off tomorrow,” Mr Rutter says.

The 54-year-old lives in Huddersfield, and commutes to work in Harrogate by car, an 80 mile round trip.

‘Doomed’

He normally gets a new car, via financing, every two years, but has held off due to concerns about repayments.

“I sound like Frazer from Dad’s Army – ‘We’re doomed!’ – but I really am genuinely worried about the future,” he says.

He is not going on holiday this year, has not upgraded his phone, and has put buying a new television on hold. The one luxury he still grants himself is a season ticket for Leeds Rhinos rugby league club.

Mr Rutter is also concerned about the effects of Brexit on his work in terms of finding staff.

“My support workers are Polish, Italian, Lithuanian. The house-keeping staff are from Spain and Portugal,” he says. “I work in Harrogate, which is an affluent area, and we struggle to recruit people for low-income posts.”

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Richard and Emma Ward

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Richard and Emma Ward have postponed a short holiday this year due to concerns about Brexit and the pound.

Richard Ward, a 29-year-old project manager from Leicester, has also put some of his spending on hold.

He and his wife Emma, a children’s nurse, put off booking a short holiday to Poland or Hungary due to Brexit being postponed.

They are concerned about the pound dropping while they are away, and the holiday becoming more expensive.

‘No-one knows’

“We were thinking about going within the next month. We’ve put it off,” he said. “When the referendum result came in, the pound crashed against the euro. We worried that would happen again.”

Mr Ward works in the construction industry. The company he works for, which imports goods from Europe, has already raised prices due to the drop in the pound.

He is concerned a no-deal Brexit will lead to queues of lorries at Dover, disrupting his firm’s work.

“If we get a deal, I don’t think too much will change. I don’t see that happening,” he said.

“The reality of the situation is no-one knows what will happen if we leave [the EU] without a deal.”

Saving more

Some argue that the economic risks of a potential no-deal Brexit have been exaggerated by those who do not want to leave the EU.

But just under a third of UK consumers have changed their spending habits due to Brexit uncertainty, and just under a quarter have put off making major purchases, a survey by KPMG suggested.

People are also delaying booking holidays and making stock market investments, the accountancy firm said.

Paula Smith, head of banking at KPMG UK, said: “It is clear people are uncertain about the future, spending and investing less while saving more.

“However, while people work to protect their finances from Brexit uncertainties, interest rates remain stubbornly low, so savings aren’t really working for people.

“The business world has been cautious about investing for growth since the referendum and that’s clearly playing through into the real economy and people’s financial confidence.”

Younger people tend to be more concerned about the economic effects of Brexit, with 46% of 18 to 34-year-olds delaying big purchases or putting more money into savings, said KPMG.

People aged 35 and over have put more money into savings, while the over-55’s tend to be least worried, with only one in five changing their spending habits, it said.

In London, one in 20 people even delayed their wedding due to Brexit, the accountancy firm found.

Consumer spending growth in the UK fell to a record low in July, according to the British Retail Consortium and KPMG, due to Brexit uncertainty and slow real wage growth.


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