News Headlines – Thursday 12th December 2013

Business/Economic
Lloyds Banking Group and RBS have been fined a total of £90m –the former for serious failings in its sales practices, and the latter to settle accusations that it breached US sanctions. The FCA was particularly critical of the structure of targets and bonus arrangements that involved sales people being potentially demoted with a cut in salary of up to 50% if they failed to hit targets.

Property
The number of first time buyers has surged by three quarters over the past year as a surge of activity in the housing market pushes prices even higher. Haart revealed that the number of the first time buyer registrations had risen 78.4% in November 2013 compared to the same month last year. Both Haart and Zoopla say that average house prices in the UK have risen over £10,000 during the year, soaring way head of growth in typical wages.

The energy minister has indicated that the Government could defy an official recommendation that it must meet its green energy targets for the 2020s. Michael Fallon described the report as merely ‘advice.’

Personal Finance
Families are having to spend almost £500 more a year on housing and energy bills than a decade ago, forcing cutbacks in other areas to make ends meet. The ONS found that last year families spent an average £68 a week on rent, energy bills, and other housing costs such and maintenance and repairs, up from £59.20 in 2002.

Recruitment
The treasury has confirmed maternity pay will be protected after it was revealed by David Cameron that it would be lumped in with the welfare spending due to be capped in next Spring’s Budget. Francis Elliott, Times, p10; Shadow childcare minister Lucy Powell is expected to say that employers wrongly see mothers as ‘scatty and clock watching,’ as they fail to understand that they have already done a day’s work before they leave home. Powell is to call for a revolution to overcome prejudices faced by working parents.

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