Today’s Paper Summary: Monday 18th November

Personal Finance

“The fall in family finances will herald a bleak midwinter” according to the Times, reporting the latest Markit index, which shows household finances have dwindled as pay rises are outpaced by inflation in the run up to Christmas. In November, the index – which looks at perception of financial wellbeing – hit its lowest since April, as families left ill-spirited by diminishing household finance outnumbered those seeing an improvement by four to one. (The Times p.41, FT p.3)


In the Express, Sarah O Grady writes that house hunters can ‘snap up a bargain’ in the run up to Christmas, as the market is  set to continue ‘booming’ in 2014. A report from Property analysts Rightmove shows that asking prices have fallen 2.4% so far in November, in line with a seasonal dip. But Rightmove director Miles Shipside said that their survey showed “widespread confusion among those who stand to benefit the most from Help to Buy.” David Whittaker of Mortgages For Business, said: “Buyers might find they can sneak in a good deal before Help to Buy stokes the property furnace in the New Year.” (The Daily Express p.7, The Times p.21)


Since the start of quantitative easing in 2009, British employers have pumped £182bn into defined-benefit pension schemes. Figures from the Pension Protection Fund reveal that in the financial year 2012-13, employers contributed £29bn worth of deficit reductions, and a further £18bn worth of ‘special’ payments. The Telegraph reports that ‘special payments in particular, are growing, to help tackle the deficit, with these payments consistently growing since quantitative easing was introduced. (The Daily Telegraph B1)


In his autumn statement on the 5th December, the chancellor is expected to endorse a shake-up in the government’s attitude to apprenticeships. In a move aiming to raise Britain’s productivity levels, and bridge the skills gap with countries like Germany, companies will be able to procure training for apprentices themselves, and they will be able to recover government subsidies through their tax return. It will put them in the driving seat and enable them to choose the apprenticeship schemes that best suit their staff, and their preferred training provider or college. But the Association of Employment and Learning Providers has warned that small companies with only one or two trainees could struggle with the new system.  (FT p.2)


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