The Daily Mail leads with the story that Britain’s financial elite are now the highest paid in Europe. The number of UK bankers earning over €1m is now over 2,700 – 12 times more than that in any other EU country (Times p.7, Telegraph p.37). With bankers earning up to four times their average salary in bonuses, the FT highlights that this also sets up a potential conflict with the controversial EU-wide bonus cap that comes in next year. This will restrict variable pay to 100%, causing banks to draw up plans to circumvent the restriction by paying affected staff with monthly allowances that do not count as bonuses (p.17)
Lenders have come under fire as it was revealed that lending to small and medium sized businesses shrank by £505 million as households borrowed an extra £1.7 billion, and economists have warned that this is hindering the long-term recovery (Times p.65). Duncan Kreeger, West One Loans, described business loans as “rarer than diamonds” and called for more action from Banks to reinforce business lending.
Ahead of this week’s Autumn statement, it is expected that most energy companies will announce that household power bills will rise by less than expected this winter, in light of a deal with the Government to redistribute Green levies. The Chancellor’s review of how to roll back energy tariffs could knock £50 off the typical annual household bill (Telegraph p.1, FT p.3, Express p.2, Mail p.2). But the move has led to accusations that Downing Street had tried to secure an energy price freeze and “dance to Labour’s tune” before the next election (Times p.2)
As neither Labour, the Tories or the Lib Dems assure voters they’ll keep the ‘triple lock’ guarantee linking state pensions to earnings and inflation, experts warn of a looming pension crisis in 2015 (Express p.6)
House prices in Prime Central London have stalled in November, with Knight Frank discovering annual growth is at its lowest figure in four years. According to Nationwide, prices in the capital are almost twice the national average – the biggest difference in 40 years. The FT speculates that the market may subsequently be heading for a 1990s-style correction, fearing that the city’s property boom may soon give way to rapid collapse in house prices (James Pickford, FT p.2). Changing sentiment of future gains, mansion tax, capital gains tax, a sterling crisis, the soaring cost the living in the capital and even the threat of withdrawal from the EU all threaten to “pull the rug out from under the whole market”.
As the Bank of England call a halt to Funding for Lending, experts say mortgage rates are likely to rise in the medium term, while savers should benefit from higher deposit rates (FT Money p.3)