London’s housing market is showing signs of demand not seen since before the recent property crash with key statistics reaching levels last registered in 2007. The proportion of the asking price achieved with London properties now stands at higher than 95 per cent – a level not seen since the summer of 2007. The length of time a property spends on the market in London before being sold has fallen to 4.6 weeks – a level last seen in October 2007 and according to a recent survey by Zoopla confidence has rocketed to its highest point in three years. The main driver of price rises in April has been the London market, where demand has grown three times faster than supply over the last quarter. North London and south-west London registered the strongest increases over the month, with 1.3 % and 1.1%. Outside London the next highest levels of growth were seen in Oxfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
Pensions Secretary Mr Iain Duncan Smith urged wealthy pensioners to give up benefits like winter fuel payments – pushing the future of state help for old people into turmoil. He encouraged better-off elderly people to pay back taxpayer-funded financial support that they do not need, such as the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes and TV licences. According to the papers ministers begin a desperate search for £11.5bn of savings in election year. Many argue it would be impossible for people to repay things such as winter fuel payment. Pensions expert Ros Altman, stressed that most pensioners needed the money and it was off beam to suggest they should feel guilty and undeserving of state help.
Bank lending to UK businesses is expected to rise 3%, and it will go up this year for the first time in four years as economic growth picks up, according to a quarterly report from Ernst and Young. Businesses are expected to look for more money for fresh new investment as confidence in financial markets returns. It has been forecast that there will be growth in bank lending from 2% in its last quarterly report to 3% this year, suggesting that chief financial officers were becoming more confident in the business environment. The prediction comes after the Treasury and Bank of England extended the £80bn Funding for Lending scheme in an attempt to boost support for small businesses, which are still struggling to borrow.
A major transformation in the welfare system for years will start today at a job centre near Manchester. The Coalition’s universal credit system (that will roll several benefits into one unified payment) will be available today to residents of Ashton-under-Lyne. The scheme will target milllions of claims and the payment of billions of pounds is starting small scale despite concerns about its broader application. It is said to be the most complex public sector reform the Government is attempting. Ian Duncan Smith believes the scheme will encourage people to step back into employment and he has made its implementation a personal mission. It will be implemented in stages with the full scheme not due to be accomplished until 2017.