Average house prices in London are set to hit £600,000 within for years, with “Bubble-like conditions emerging in the capital.” The EY Item Club report states that the rest of the country will return to normal but prices in the capital will increase by 36% from current levels.
Lloyds Banking Group has set a target of 40% of the top 5,000 roles in the bank to be held by women. The move has been welcomed by campaigners and would be the first such move from a FTSE 100 company. Helena Morrissey, head of the 30% club called for other companies to follow suit.
High street retailers have enjoyed their best January in three years, with fashion sales up by more than 10% and homeware up by 5.2% according to BDO. Growth in fashion sales was attributed to a surge in demand for coats due to the record wet weather.
Milton Abbey in Dorset has become the first independent school in Britain to slash its fees in a move to increase pupil numbers. A cut of £2,000 in day fees is aimed at putting fees more within range of working parents.
Millions of RBS and Natwest customers were left stranded without means of payment yesterday – one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Technical glitches meant debit card and online payments would not work, leaving shoppers at tills with trolley loads of goods and diners finishing meals with no way of paying for them. The outage lasted most of the evening and RBS have offered to pay customers back who have been left out of pocket. Following past problems with their online banking systems, RBS and Natwest are likely to face an exodus of customers to other banks.
David Cameron’s trade visit to China has shown early results as the superpower has indicated plans to invest billions of pounds in British infrastructure. Projects including nuclear plants and HS2 are likely to benefit from Chinese money, while Cameron is backing a free trade agreement between the EU and Beijing which would make it easier to sell British goods. The Daily Telegraph backs the move arguing that as China develops its growth cycle, creative industries, advisory services and technology will become far more important – showing a clear role for the UK. However, the trip has been criticised for insufficient focus on human rights issues and the banning of a Bloomberg reporter from a press conference.
A third of big businesses that signed up to cutting gender inequality have done nothing towards their targets, including not publishing their gender make up. Twenty per cent of the work force is covered under the Think, Act, Report scheme but many are being failed according to The Times.
Lord Deben, the former Conservative cabinet minister has urged the government not to build a new generation of garden cities, arguing the land is needed for growing food. He argues that the original garden cities were a response to appalling living standards in towns which is no longer the case. However, conservative inaction on building was attacked by Labour peer Lord Adonis in the Lords yesterday.
Lending to landlords had surged to a near five year high with £5bn of buy to let mortgages advanced in the second quarter of the year. This represents a rise of 21% compared with the previous year and The announcement that the low base rate is likely to continue until 2016 is forcing savers to look for more profitable investments, in particular property rentals. The news comes as LSL figures published today show house prices have risen by 2.6% over the past year. However, it is not all bad news for first time buyers as e.surv figures show a 56% rise in high LTV lending over the past year.
The baby boomer generation is reaching pension age at record rates according to the ONS. It represents a major cash outflow for the government with pension payments rising by nearly £18bn since the first baby boomer women drew their pensions at the age of 60 in 2005. Over 65s are one of the richest demographic groups and over 50s accounted for nearly half of all household spending in 2012.
More women should be appointed to work at the Bank of England according to Mark Carney. The Governor of the Bank has told George Osborne the lack of women in senior roles is “anomalous.” There are currently just two women in the top ranks of the bank, and the MPC has had no women serving on it for three years. It comes after Carney agreed to put Jane Austen on the new £10 note at the start of July.
Tesco’s retreat from overseas expansion continues as it merged its Chinese operation with the state owned rival. It’s 131 store network in China is to be amalgamated with Vanguard, following the closing of its Japanese and American businesses. Last year, growth in China fell 1 per cent compared with the previous year – noted as an ominous sign in such an investment hungry country by Marcus Leroux in the Times. Chief Executive Phillip Clarke is expected to focus more on the UK business, revamping stores in its home market following the move.