News Headlines – Saturday 14th December

Economics

The construction industry recorded its highest growth in two years in October, led by a revival in house building. Output increased 2.2% in October, according to the ONS, driven by a 5.5% increase in house-building and a 5.8% increase in infrastructure construction. The government stats came as the Mortgage Advice Bureau found 40% of adults were planning to move house, re-mortgage or buy their first home in 2016, before the end of the Government’s Help to Buy Scheme. More than a quarter of mortgage seekers only afford a 5% deposit, according to MAB, evidence of the demand for the scheme.

Recruitment/Education

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, has rejected two applications from grammar schools, to open a satellite school in Kent – claiming it is an illegal attempt to open a new grammar school. Under current legislation, selective schools are allowed to expand, but the opening of new grammar schools is forbidden.

Gove also sanctioned the closure of one of the first free schools , after Ofsted inspectors reported that it wasn’t making enough progress, after warnings that pupils at the school were failing to receive a thorough enough education. This is the first free school to be closed down – and was used by critics to argue the coalition’s educations reforms were not working. Tristram Hunt, the Shadow Education Secretary said the government’s free schools policy had led to “a huge waste of public money and poor standards.”

Property

The average price of a ‘prime’ home in London is set to rise above £6m in the next 30 years, according to family wealth manager Fleming Family & Partners (FF&P). Prime areas including Belgravia, South Kensington and Knightsbridge are expected to rise in price from up to £1.5m today to up to £6.4m in 30 years’ time, an estimate based on a ‘modest’ annual rate rise of 5%. The report found property to be the best performing asset class for the ultra-rich individual over the next 30 years.

Personal Finance

In the FT, Josephine Cumbo writes how the government is under pressure to intervene in the £12bn-a-year annuity market, after an influential consumer group warned that millions of people stood to lose out in retirement. This call was inspired by a study published by the Financial Services Consumer Panel (FSCP), which concluded that consumers were exposed to a “complex, confusing marketplace”.

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