Headlines on Friday 18 October

Business and economics

The coalition’s new British Business Bank should unlock £10bn of extra public and private finance for SMEs over the next five years, Vince Cable said yesterday. The bank will have £2.9bn of capital from existing government finance schemes as well as £1bn of new capital announced in last year’s Autumn Statement. Ron Emerson, formerly of Standard Chartered, will be the bank’s first non-executive chairman. (FT, p2)

Property

Homeowners in London are twice as likely to try to sell their house in the next 12 months than in the previous 12 months, according to a new poll by YouGov and the Times assessing the impact of the government’s mortgage schemes. More than one in three Londoners have looked up the sale prices of similar houses to theirs in the last year, compared with 28 per cent nationwide. One in five Londoners have got a house valuation from websites such as Zoopla along with 13 per cent of homeowners across the country. (Times, p6)

Personal finance

British Gas has announced that energy bills will rise by up to 10% this winter. The company’s 7.8 million customers will be forced to find another £120 to pay for their yearly gas and electricity bills, bringing accusations that British Gas has broken its promise to “hold prices for as long as possible.” Chris Weston, boss of parent firm Centrica, has retained his £2m bonus package, while Unite general secretary has warned this “simply cruel” move will leave people “terrified about the winter.” The Sun has hit the campaign trail in response urging Brits to switch to cheaper suppliers. (Guardian p1, Mirror, p1, 4-5, Express p4-5, Mail p8, Telegraph p1, Times p2, Sun p1)

Speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds conference, Prince Charles has declared the pensions system “unfit for purpose”, claiming its outdated 19th century design needs adapting to meet the needs of Britain’s ageing population. Ros Altmann joined calls for pension managers to sacrifice short term profits to invest in the long term and generate greater gains (Mirror, p17, Mail p10, Telegraph p17)

Recruitment

Graduates with a third-class degree will be offered £9,000 to train as teachers in key subjects as recruitment shortfalls force the government to lower its thresholds. Maths and physics graduates will qualify for a teacher training bursary if they have a “relevant degree” of any classification, and a B or higher in the subject at A level. (Times, p46)

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