The key macro-economic, personal finance and property stories from today’s papers, read by Wriglesworth Account Executive Flora Spens
Michael Gove has spoken out claiming campaigners against the planning reforms are stopping children growing tall by forcing them to live in smaller homes with shared bedrooms. He also added that keeping the planning restrictions would have stunted educational growth for many. Telegraph, p1
The Times suggests that all the best people want to display masonry in their homes. Actors like Oliver Thornton and One Direction star Harry Styles have both been attracted by exposed brick. Matt Stanway, sales manager at Urban Spaces believes properties with exposed brick have the edge in terms of desirability. The more loft features – concrete ceilings wooden flooring, steel factory windows – the better. Times B&M, p5
Number of first time buyers has swelled according LSL Property Services. There were 26,100 people buying homes for the first time in July, up 8,000 through the year. Information from Connells Survey and Valuation added to LSL’s figures, suggesting that August had seen 40% more first time buyers than the same month the previous year. City AM, p7; Times, p47; Guardian, p13; FT, p3
Investors, buoyed by the apparent momentum of the economy, expect the first rise in interest rates to come almost two years earlier than the Bank of England indicated last week. Market interest rate expectations suggest the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee will disregard its new forward guidance and raise the rate in the final months of 2014 or beginning of 2015. Financial Times, p1
New rules to limit pay in the financial sector are being unnecessarily rushed according to the British Bankers’ Association. The lobby group recommends the rules be postponed until 2015. In its submission to the European Banking Authority, the BBA said the EU’s decision to equate earnings with those considered to be a material risk taker meant many relatively junior staff faced having their pay curbed. Telegraph, B1
The European Commission in expected to publish details of new legislation which would ban mobile roaming charges. From 2014, customers would be able to keep costs down by selecting another provider for calls, texts and data while travelling if their own network charges extra for service abroad. Guardian, p31
British services sector saw its strongest month in over two years this June according to the Markit services purchasing managers’ index, one of the most influential pieces of economic data. The index hit 56.9 way above expectations for a result of 54.5. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in business activity for sector.
Work-life balance and happiness are slippery concepts to measure but Randstad UK has surveyed 2000 employees to find that those least happy with their work-life balance accountants (42%) financial services staff (47%) actually have a shorter average working week that other UK roles. Utility and insurance workers are the most happy with their work-life balance yet these sectors have some of the longest average working weeks. Randstad says it’s not about working shorter hours or earning more, a more holistic approach is needed.
Pensions chaos as panicking traders rush to sell shares amid fears of a fresh global financial crisis which could badly hit those about to retire, screams the front page of the Express.
Other news says punitive green taxes will help inflate the average family energy bill by almost a third up to £1,900 by the end of the decade according to the Taypayers’ Alliance.
The Energy Saving Trust survey says every 2.7 seconds Britons flush away enough water to hydrate a person for 80 years. The average person uses 142 litres of water a day – wasting energy on boiling over filled kettles and showering for too long. 86,000 homes surveyed to point out the environmental and energy cost attached to water which many people do not consider. Hot water use contributes £228 to the average annual combined energy bill.
The financial crisis has fuelled a huge expansion of organised crime in Europe, with 3,600 criminal syndicates active across the continent, profiting from such prosaic products as household detergents, the head of Europol has warned.
Growing numbers of people are being conned out of their pension pots by unscrupulous financial advisers. Cases of workers under 55 being persuaded to “unlock” or “liberate” their pension savings have mushroomed in recent months, in spite of warnings from the police, the insurance industry and regulators.
A focus on short-term fixes by successive governments over the past 50 years has exacerbated the failure of the housing market, according to a report by RICS housing commission. The body was set up in February to find ways to address the housing crisis called yesterday for an end to “short-term and partial policies”.
Ministers have been accused of botching a policy to tackle youth unemployment after fresh evidence emerged that employers were failing to take up a subsidy to hire jobless young people. In a survey of 200 employers by the Recruitment and Employment Federation, none said that they has used a wage incentive of £2,275 on offer for employing a young person who had been out of work for several months. The subsidy is part of the £1bn three-year Youth Contract launched in April 2012 and championed by Nick Clegg.
The average price of a house has soared past the £250,000 mark for the first time. The asking price for a three bedroom semi-detached rose £2,957 in June to £252,798 thanks to stronger consumer confidence and cheaper loans. Homeowners in the South-East saw the values of their properties shoot up by £42,548 (14.8%) to £329,968 since the start of the year. London wins the race with another record of £515,243 for the cost of an average property, continuing its upward path. There are clearly signs of a wider and more sustainable recovery. There is little indication of a North-south divide as the first half asking price surge in the North is almost equal to that of the South. Mortgage availability has increased and the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme has enabled lenders to lower rates significantly. The Help to Buy scheme is also aimed to help support the housing market in coming months and while the economy improves there are hopes that sales will continue to rise and more buyers will flock to the market.
Foreign-owned bank branches in Britain made the country’s financial crisis worse, shrinking their loan books by almost half at the height of the credit crunch. The BoE has shown real concern over the impact of international banking on the UK economy, judging by the bank’s latest research that reveals lending from foreign-owned branches grew in the lead up to the crisis before sinking by 45%between the third quarter of 2007 and the same period in 2009. The study points to the difficulties in kick-starting lending following the slump in credit triggered by the crisis. The Funding for Lending Scheme and Project Merlin, the government’s flagship initiatives to boost lending to Britain’s households and businesses, have been unsuccessful in reversing the decline. It must be noted that involvement in these schemes is limited to UK-owned banks. In fact UK-owned banks restrained their lending far less significantly than foreign branches during the height of the crunch, shrinking their loan books by 14% during the same two-year period.
The pressure on household finances maybe starting to ease, according to Markit’s survey of 1,500 people that illustrates the least negative financial situation for three years. Yet responses show family budgets are suffering with 26% suggesting their finances have deteriorated since June, as opposed to 8% reporting an improvement. Even though the household finance index is still far from ideal, it is the best result since February 2010. Latest figures in a new report by Barclay’s Wealth, show Britain’s wealthiest people are more likely to be entrepreneurs and less likely to have inherited their money than their European and American counterparts. Success at enterprise is the most common way to get rich in Britain as figures reveal 45% of those with over £1m acquired much of their wealth through business profits or sales. Only 14% of rich Britons gained much of their wealth through inheritance compared to 21% of Euros.
Income from employment appeared fragile. It has also been revealed that more earners are finding a second job to boost their wages, in fact three million British people have worked a second job to top up their incomes according to Direct home business insurance research. In total 1.5m people supplement their wages by running their own businesses. Real pay has declined over recent years as fewer people receive pay rises and above target inflation stings.
The Times’ business commentary piece argues the rally in the FTSE is based on a very brittle consensus of optimism. JP Morgan yesterday proclaimed there is barely an investor who thinks the market can fall by more than single digits, highlighting the strikingly bullish mood sweeping the City. But The Times warns against getting over-excited, reminding us that the rally has come from “a very low base”, and that it is only being driven by overconfidence in the market – a confidence which will eventually fizzle out. The piece argues underlying macro-economic forces aren’t yet strong enough to maintain the momentum built up in the markets.
The Aviva Real Retirement Report has created waves in the press today, revealing pensioners are pillaging their inheritances early in order to help their struggling families out before they die. More than a fifth of over 55s are dipping in to funds they planned to leave behind in order to help their families in financial hardship – hardship caused by the rising cost of living, weak wage growth, and meagre savings rates. The Telegraph runs with the story, as does the Guardian and various onlines.
The Telegraph business section’s lead opinion piece focuses on mortgage subsidies, and weighs up whether a high percentage of homeownership is, in fact, a good thing for society. The piece argues mortgage subsidies are a trap, and the government should instead be looking to increase supply in the private rental sector (a drum that David Brown of LSL Property Services has been bashing for some time). The author, Janet Daley, argues “being locked into property ownership before you have undertaken the responsibilities of adult life…is absurd.”
Recruitment and employment
Research by the Centre for Retail Studies forecasts 1 in 5 high street stores will be forced to close in the next 5 years, causing 316,000 job losses across the country, because bricks and mortar retailers are struggling to compete with their online counterparts. Jan Hills, of leadership consultancy Head Heart + Brain, warned yesterday on Sky News and ITV London that the failure of some retail leaders to adapt to change in the sector has been the driving factor behind some store closures.
Phoebus Software and Crown Mortgage Management are celebrating ten years of partnership during which time Phoebus have supported Crown Mortgage Management in delivering a threefold increase in Assets Under Management from £1.6bn in 2003, to £4.9bn in 2013.
Crown Mortgage Management, one of the longest established organisations in the mortgage administration industry, works with banks, building societies and investment funds to service their residential, lifetime and commercial loan portfolios. Crown selected Phoebus as its servicing partner in 2002, to facilitate the servicing of its residential and commercial mortgages.
Phoebus’ system has supported the achievement of Crown Mortgage Management’s ambitious growth targets over the last ten years, enabling the company to expand from servicing 170,000 transactions in 2002, to over 20 million transactions last year. Always keen to be at the forefront of new developments, Crown Mortgage Management was one of the first clients to have their own Phoebus developer licence enabling them to change and adapt their system quickly and efficiently.
Paul Hunt, managing director of Phoebus Software said: “It is immensely satisfying to work with a forward thinking company such as Crown Mortgage Management, which recognises the value of investing in software with a long term vision. We have been able to equip Crown Mortgage Management with the tools they needed to achieve such remarkable growth and we look forward to supporting them as they continue on their journey.”
Sue Ross, Chief Information Officer at Crown Mortgage Management commented: “We are pleased to be celebrating our ten year anniversary working with Phoebus. At Crown Mortgage Management we are committed to continue enhancing our operations and technological support as our business grows, and the requirements of both our clients and the market develop. We have an excellent working relationship with Phoebus and look forward to working with them on the continued development of the platform.”