News headlines for 2.12.12

Economics

According to an extensive survey by the consumer group Which? more than 10 million families are struggling to make ends meet as the UK’s economic woes continue to have eat into family incomes. The research details the lengths that families are being forced to go, and shows that more than a third of the population (amounting to 10.2m households) are feeling the squeeze as the gap between income and spending narrows. It is an interesting time to release this research as the Chancellor is expected to impose further cuts and benefit freezes in a couple of days. P.2 of Independent on Sunday.

Property

Latest figures show that developers are planning to build tens of thousands of new homes in areas that are at high risk of flooding. 28,000 planning applications were submitted to build last year in locations that officials consider to not be in safe areas. This news comes after four people have died and more than 1,200 homes across the UK were left seriously damaged in a week of flooding. P.6 of Sunday Telegraph.

Personal Finance

Mortgage lenders are said to be considering emergency measures to provide cover for homes at high risk of flooding. This is a response to breakdown in talks between the coalition and the insurance industry last week over 200,000 homeowners living in areas vulnerable to flooding, who may not be able to renew cover next year. An agreement between the two – a “statement of principles” to continue to cover the homes – is due to run out next July, leaving many residents unable to obtain buildings and contents policies. Insurers argued the Government isn’t spending enough on flood defences and called for the Government to approve a temporary overdraft facility enabling insurers to pay for extreme weather damage, but this was rejected. However, last week, the Government announced £120m of extra funds for flood defences. The Association of British Insurers said this was inadequate and would not resolve the dispute. P.3 of Money Section, Sunday Times.

For the first time since before the credit crisis the mortgage market is in the midst of its first price war. Rates on popular home loans have fallen by a third since the summer, knocking £125 off the monthly interest cost of a £150,000 mortgage. This development offers hope to first-time buyers who are eager to stop paying record rents, and will allow many existing homeowners to remortgage and cut their monthly outgoings. There are also hopes that this could help spark some life back into the moribund property market. P.3 of Money Section, Sunday Telegraph.

Recruitment

Since the trebling of the maximum tuition fees to £9,000, nearly one in five degree courses has been scrapped. Universities are said to be concentrating on popular subjects and dropping the courses that either have too few applicants or cost too much to run. Official figures show a cull of over 2,600 in the number of courses available to applicants planning to start their degrees in 2013. More than 5,200 courses had already been removed for students beginning this year, the first to face the higher fees. P.4 of Sunday Times.

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