Economics: Britain’s economic performance has received a rare accolade from the Switzerland based World Economic Forum which says the UK is now the 8th most competitive country in the world. However the WEF points out the UK’s macroeconomic environment (general health of economy) remains weak with the country ranking 110th, down from 85th in 2011. Last night David Cameron urged his new ministerial team to focus relentlessly on kick starting Britain’s economic recovery. David Cameron told ministers in his reshuffled Cabinet to make growth their top priority and stated every department is an economic department and said they are all involved in a joint effort to get the deficit down and the economy moving. He is announcing today an emergency year long free for all in house extensions in an attempt to kick start the economy and the treasury will also publish an infrastructure bill today due to be rushed on the statute book, promising to provide £40bn of state finance for infrastructure schemes that can start within 12 months and promote good value. (Guardian, Daily Express)
Property: With the temporary lifting of planning rules being announced by the PM today and his deputy in an effort to boost the construction industry and lift the economy, Ed Milliband said that work on new housing schemes had fallen since the government announced its housing strategy less than a year ago. David Cameron will announce a package of measures today which will include new government guarantees to support £10 billion of new housing in order to stimulate growth and are planning to make measures easier under a new planning relaxation to make it easier for homeowners to put in a new conservatory, loft extension or garage and for businesses to build extensions. (FT, The Times)
Personal Finance: Homeowners have suffered a 70% rise in mortgage fees in just four years despite flat interest rates according to shock figures last night as the average fee was said to be £1,514. In 2008 , the year before the interest rate was cut to 0.5%, it was £899. There is thought to be no logical reason for the rise. In the short space between August and September they have increased by an average of £42 and people are wondering how administration rates could have jumped by 70%. The Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls reveals today that a future Labour government could introduce a wealth tax on high-value properties to safeguard the NHS and invest in the economy. Mr Balls rejected the temporary wealth tax floated by Nick Clegg, reported The Independent but offered immediate talks with Vince cable, on a new Lib-Labour consensus including his idea of a permanent mansion tax on homes worth more than £2m – signalling a move away from Labour’s traditional goal of state funded wealth redistribution.
Employment / Recruitment: Concerns have been raised over the fact that the treasury is without a female minister for the first time in 16 years, as it deals with the biggest post-war economic recession. The decision to move the economic secretary, Chloe Smith to international development has created strong criticism and there are fears that there will be little chance of women’s perspectives on spending being taken seriously. It is said to be important to recruit more women into the Treasury to make important matters on public spending to women more prominent. (Telegraph)