Yesterday saw the announcement that inflation fell to the government target level of 2% in the last month, for the first time in four years. Inflation came in 0.1% lower than in November 2013, helped by the falling cost of recreational goods and services. But slower inflation was partially offset by an increase in motor fuel process, according to the ONS. (Guardian p.20 Metro p.46)
Research from housing charity Shelter reveals tens of thousands of people are taking out payday loans to cover their mortgages and rent, with one in 50 using high interest credit in the past year. The charity warned that in total, one in five have use overdrafts, credit cards or cash borrowed from family and friends in order to pay for housing in the last 12 months. Shelter surveyed homeowners on their financial worries, and also discovered that a quarter of people would feel too ashamed to get help with housing repayments. The charity also revealed a 30% increase in calls to its helpline over the past year. (Metro p.4)
Released in tandem with the ONS inflation statistics yesterday, the latest house price index from the ONS showed the price of the average UK house rose 5.4% to £248,000 in the 12 months to November. In London, the price rise was more than double that, with the capital seeing a year-on-year increase of 11.6%.
The Metro reacted to this news by heralding housing misery for first-time buyers, with the average first time buyer forced to pay £187,000 – or 6% more than a year ago. Peter Rollings of Marsh & Parsons said: “House price growth has washed over every corner of the UK” but in the Daily Telegraph, Richard Sexton of e.surv warned: “We desperately need more construction in order to prevent the bottom of the market being priced out entirely.” (Daily Telegraph B4, Metro p.47, Daily Express p.28, Guardian p.21, The Sun p.38, The Times p.35)
The Independent Editorial lead with a sceptical view of the ONS figures, arguing that expensive housing distorts the UK economy: “House-builders find themselves in the spotlight. Housing completions have been abysmally low for decades. And whatever David Cameron says, it is difficult to see the Government’s Help to Buy mortgage subsidies boosting supply sufficiently to keep house prices anchored. That is dangerous.” It argued that ultimately, even middle-class homeowners could ‘lose out’ from rising prices (Independent p.2)
‘Skinflint’ bosses who fail to pay workers the minimum wage will face penalties of up to £20,000 from next month say the government – a £15,000 increase on current fines. Business Secretary Vince Cable also said that ministers had made it easier to ‘name and shame’ bosses paying under the minimum wage, and that all calls to the free pay and work rights help line would be investigated. (Metro p.47)