Paper Summary – Monday 20th January

Economics

  • Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London & Westminster writes in the Daily Telegraph business section that the interest rate has provided UK business and individuals alike with breathing space.  Nevertheless, the real question that should be foremost in the minds of policymakers after five straight years of emergency monetary stimulus, is at what cost to the nation’s long-term economic interests?  Field feels the young and middle-class savers who are being significantly impoverished by Treasury policies.  He says today’s young people grapple with sky-high rents and house prices, a less secure employment market and increasing personal debt.  But, he says, ultra-low interest rates carry a cost – and it’s starting to rack up.

 

Recruitment & Employment

  • Writing in today’s Daily Mail, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Home Secretary Theresa May announce a crackdown on jobless immigrants seeking to access housing benefit.  In the Mail’s leaders it backs IDS to the hilt: “Any doubts that Iain Duncan Smith’s crusade against welfare dependency is having the desired effect should be dispelled by an extraordinary set of figures published today.  They show that in the last five years of the Labour government the number of British people in work fell by 413,000, while the number of migrants employed soared by 736,000.  Yet since the 2010 election that depressing trend has been completely reversed, with 538,000 Britons finding new jobs compared with 247,000 foreigners.”  In an interview with The Independent, shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Rachel Reeves has said that a Labour government would deny people unemployment benefit if they are unable to demonstrate that they have the basic skills needed to find work after six weeks on the dole.  The Mirror’s leader piece comes out strongly against Reeves’ plans – “Make Jobs, not exams’ is the headline.

 

 

Property

  • In The Times, Deidre Hipwell reports that criticism of the Government’s Help to Buy initiative from a City financiers who has warned that London’s housing market is overheating, as research shows asking prices are rising by record amounts.  Nigel Wilson, the chief executive of Legal & General said house prices in London and the South East had reached “absurd” levels and would soon only be affordable to the wealthy.  He said young people were being encouraged to buy homes in “over- leveraged” situations and warned that the Government should stop stoking demand through its Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme.

 

Personal Finance

  • The Independent reports a fourth capital raise at Metro Bank has brought in £387.5m to aid growth, taking the total equity raised to £641m. Founder and Chairman Vernon W Hill said: ‘The revolution in British banking continues, with strong support from existing and new investors.’  Elsewhere in the sector, Treasury officials are believed to be considering a second sale of Lloyds shares as early as mid-February, following publication of the bank’s annual results on February 13 – that story runs in the Daily Mail.
Advertisements

Paper Summary: Boxing Day

Economics

  • There’s a neat summary of house price forecasts for 2014 from Hilary Osborne in The Guardian.  The bulls: Rightmove and RICS (8 per cent).  The bears: “the normally downbeat” Capital Economics (5 per cent).  the consensus appears to be about 6.75 per cent.  There’s also, an analysis of the accuracy of predictions for 2013.  The booby prizes went to Knight Frank (who forecast a fall of 2 per cent and reported an increase of 7 per cent) and arch pessimists Capital Economics, who forecast Nationwide’s index would fall 5 per cent – the Nationwide HPI rose 6.5 per cent over the year.  Closest call was RICS who forecast a rise of 2 per cent then reported a rise of 5 per cent.

A Capital Economics forecaster

Personal Finance

  • In an editorial piece in the Daily Express (beneath an expression of gratitude to our troops and above a rather toadying message to the Queen – “here’s to the next royal baby, Ma’am!) the paper highlights the importance of pensions (sparked by a report on a potential pensions disaster for the next generation).  The Express says, “If half the population aren’t paying enough towards their pensions or are leaving it too late to join then there is a time bomb ticking that will cause immense hardship and worry.  If youngsters won’t listen to the Government or experts then it is the duty of parents and grandparents to put them wise to one of the best investments anyone can make”

Property

  • Leader pieces in the Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph focus on flooding.  In “Joy’s at a premium” the Daily Mirror argues that insurance companies should play fair and pay up promptly.  “Instead of quibbling they should help put the lives of those affected back together rather than hindering them.  Firms who happily pocket the monthly premiums have a moral duty to write a big cheque when a legitimate claim is made by a policy holder”.  The Daily Telegraph, on the other hand, says should consider if we are doing all we can to ward against flooding.  Earlier this year, the Coalition announced that it would spend more on flood defences, after cutting back when it came to power.  But MPs warned this would still not keep pace with increasing risks: “a renewed focus on this issue will prevent the wreaking of similar devastation on more homes, and more lives, in the years to come.”

Recruitment and Employment

  • The BBCs reports a survey by the recruitment organisation, Randstad, which shows that while the recession has led to a drop in the number of people commuting as people lost their jobs – there has been an increase in people travelling more three hours a day.  The poll, which looked at the commuting patterns of 2,000 workers between 2008 and 2013, found that almost one in 10 respondents were now travelling for that period a day – compared with one in 20 previously.

Paper Summary 31st October 2013

RECRUITMENT & EMPLOYMENT

  • In the Daily Mail, Linda Whitney reports candidates are still having to work hard at making their applications stand out – although Adzuna has some good news, saying fewer than two people are now chasing every job.  Mark Bull, chief executive of recruiter Randstad UK says, “Match your skills and experience to the vacancy but also understand what it offers that will fulfil you and ensure this comes through in your application and interview.”  He also advises candidates to demonstrate they are high-fliers who should be considered above others.  He says, “Highlight your extracurricular activities and the skills they have given you – employers look for rounded individuals”

 PERSONAL FINANCE

  • The Daily Telegraph reports elderly people will have to spend nearly twice as much on care bills as previously thought before qualifying for state help.  The Coalition’s pledge to overhaul care by introducing a £72,000 cap on care costs is misleading because it excludes tens of thousands of pounds in accommodation fees according to care agency Prestige Nursing+CareNorman Lamb, the care minister, said the Government had always made clear that the cap would not apply to accommodation costs, which residents would continue to pay even after they qualify for state support.

PROPERTY

  • Elsewhere in The Daily Telegraph, personal finance reporter Kyle Caldwell looks at how to make a deposit for a first house stretch further.  His advice includes investing in residential property funds and cutting back on discretionary spending including moving back in with friends or parents.  As average London rents hit £1,100 a month according to LSL Property Services, “would-be buyers are ploughing much of their hard-earned cash into landlord’s pockets”

Paper Summary: 14th October 2013

ECONOMICS

  • The front page of the Financial Times is given over to Help to Buy.  Lloyds, one of Britain’s big four banks, has warned that the government’s scheme risks creating a dangerous bubble in property prices unless steps are taken to free up planning restrictions and boost the supply of housing.  António Horta-Osório, one of the most enthusiastic supporters of the government’s initiative said the policy could only succeed if it led to broader reform.

 

PROPERTY

  • Metro runs a piece on research from LSL Property Services about the cost of stamp duty – the average price that a first time buyer pays is now £1,457.  At the other end of the spectrum, the i paper, shows that almost 7,400 homes around Great Britain changed hands for more than £1m last year, a 2% increase on 2011.  Those figures, however, only cover property that was sold during 2012 – a small number of houses worth over £1m.  Zoopla puts the total figure at around 323,77 and of those, almost a quarter – or about 78,999 – have moved to valuations above £1m over the past 12 months.

 PERSONAL FINANCE

  • Both the leader pieces in The Sun and the Daily Express look at green taxes and subsidies that form a substantial and growing component of domestic energy bills (adding £132 to our power bills according to an editorial in the Daily Mail).   While The Sun focuses on a case study, The Express says David Cameron could not only help millions of hard-pressed families but also remind them that many of these measures came in when Ed Miliband was climate change secretary in the last Labour administration – “to fail to adjust to the new straitened circumstances that have prevailed since the 2008 crash is not just bad politics but cruel politics as well. Many people are on the verge of having to choose between heating and eating.”

 

RECRUITMENT & EMPLOYMENT

  • The Financial Times reports that London achieved the fastest rise on business activity last month, a survey of 1200 employers found for the Lloyds Banking Commercial regional purchasing managers’ index.

Paper Summary for Thursday 3rd October 2013

Aside

Economy

  • Both The Times and the Daily Telegraph cover Mark Carney’s interview with ITV News Anglia (p.45 and p.B1 respectively) although the Daily Telegraph gives it much more space.  Mark Carney said “the economy is beginning to pick up”, but he stressed that a durable recovery would need to be built on growth outside the capital.  “This recovery, to gain traction, is going to turn on regions like East Anglia,” he said. “As important as London is, it is going to turn on what happens in the broader economy. It is not enough just to have a recovery in London and the South East.”  Mr Carney also warned potential homeowners to check they can afford their mortgages “when rates rise – as they will when the recovery takes hold”. Deflecting questions about a possible housing bubble, he said: “The bigger challenge is how do we ensure housing grows in a sustainable way.”

 

Property

  • In an opinion piece in The Independent (p.17) Mira Bar-Hillel looks at the “economic insanity” of Help to Buy.  She says, “There is no evidence that the Government’s stated purpose for Help to Buy, which is to stimulate the building of more homes, desperately needed to relieve the housing crisis, is materialising.”  Elsewhere in The Independent (p.56), Russell Lynch reports Britain’s builders are constructing homes at the fastest pace for nearly a decade as the industry struggles to keep up with fresh demand – “Residential construction activity jumped at the sharpest rate since November 2003 during September, according to the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, as the Government’s Help to Buy scheme and cheaper mortgages send buyers flooding into the market.”  The Daily Telegraph also covers the story saying Help to Buy has propelled house building to a 10-year record (p.B1).

Employment & Recruitment

  • David Cameron told the Conservative Party conference yesterday that young people should ‘earn or learn’ – announcing a policy that anyone under 25 will be barred from claiming housing or unemployment benefit, and said the state should play the role of a responsible parent – ‘nagging and pushing’ young people not to be idle, reported the Daily Telegraph.  The Independent called it an extension of US-Style “workfare”.  It quoted, Grainia Long, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, who said: “This would be a dangerous move. How do you build the economy without a young, mobile workforce?  It would mean that young people would be unwilling to take risks such as moving for work because there would be no safety net for them”.  The Daily Express took a more hard-line suggesting referring to the policy as a “benefits ban”, a “welfare crackdown” and a “benefits curb” under which young people could be “stripped of the right to claim jobless benefits”.  Perhaps the existing British workforce could do with the help? – The Daily Telegraph reports that overstretched staff are toiling at a more intense rate than they were a year according to new research from recruiter Randstad, with less than one in three reporting the same level of pressure last year.  The Daily Mirror and Metro run the same story, with the Mirror pointing out that social care workers are the most-spread thin employees in the country – over (54%) say they work hard already and cannot work any harder.  This isn’t going unacknowledged; elsewhere in his conference speech, the PM took time to praise social workers (Daily Telegraph, p.4 and The Times p.36).

Randstad logo_high res_RGB

Personal Finance

  • The Financial Conduct Authority has been urged to crack down on advertising by payday lenders and tackle the way they collect and extend loans reports The Guardian. The regulator will announce new rules governing the sector this morning, and the government will publish the results of a survey it conducted among borrowers to establish whether lenders are meeting voluntary codes of practice.  That story is also covered in The Independent (p.13) and was the lead on The Today Programme this morning.

NACFB APPOINTS THE WRIGLESWORTH CONSULTANCY

Image

The National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB) has announced it has hired The Wriglesworth Consultancy as its retained public relations consultancy.  The appointment was made after a competitive pitch process involving a number of other agencies.

The trade body has hired Wriglesworth to communicate with small businesses via the national press.  Wriglesworth director James Staunton will lead a team drawn from the agency’s corporate division including Adam Jones, while founder and CEO John Wriglesworth will manage the analytical component of the brief.

Wriglesworth currently represents the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association and the Equity Release Council having previously worked with the Building Societies Association, and the Association of Mortgage Intermediaries.

Adam Tyler, CEO of the NACFB said, “We operate in an important, sophisticated part of the market and we need an agency that not only understands the complexities of commercial lending but also has an excellent reputation for working with trade bodies and lenders, and organisations communicating with small businesses.  We were looking for an agency that can bring more intellectual rigour to our PR, too.

James Staunton, said,The NACFB saw the value in the research skills we can bring to bear on the commercial lending market.  They aren’t interested in a purely nuts and bolts, bread and butter PR programme.  They want to do something more thoughtful and creative.  That suits us perfectly and we are looking forward to delivering it.

Paper Summary: Friday 30th August 2013

Economics

  • The revised forecasts by the British Chambers of Commerce are another sign of growing confidence.  But, writing in the Daily Express, Peter Cunliffe says its head John Longworth is right to warn against false dawns.  The Middle East Crisis struggling eurozone and Chinese slowdown could hamper progress.  “That is why it is vital the Government and the Bank of England create domestic conditions in which business can thrive.”

Personal Finance

  • The Co-op has warned its banking business will go bust if bondholders don’t support its £1.5bn recapitalisation plan.  Last night The Evening Standard’s Nick Goodway was happy to leave the blame at previous management’s door in his comment on the story – as is the Daily Telegraph’s business leader piece.  But writing in the Daily Mail, Alex Brummer says it is not good enough for the new management team to simply kick the past into the long grass.  He says auditors KPMG were “asleep at the wheel”.  The Guardian’s Nils Pratley says members were complacent and also takes a pop at the FSA.  What’s the answer?  Goodway thinks the best bet, given the benefit of hindsight provided by RBS, would be to transfer the bad bank to UK Asset Resolution, which is already winding down the bad bits of Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley, as soon as possible.  The Times’ Ian King thinks the same – hand the keys over to UK Asset Resolution and save everyone a great deal of trouble.  CityAM says the group is right to hang onto its best assets while Brummer says Co-op, banking regulators and the Department for Business should try and claw back money from Peter Marks and former Britannia boss Neville Richardson.  Pratley says bondholders should argue for as large an ownership slice as possible of the re-capitalised bank (49%?) – in the end bondholders don’t have much choice but to hold their nose and back the management’s plan.  Peter Cunliffe is sure of one thing – “taxpayers cannot be expected to step in again”.

Recruitment & Employment

  • The Daily Mail reports that the cost of a room in a care home has rocketed by 9.3 per cent in two years.  In the last year alone the cost rose by 3.5 per cent, a survey of 165 private care homes found.  The average cost of a room is more than double the average pensioner income of £13,799 and the gap ‘continues to increase’, the survey said.  Prestige Nursing+Care, which provides temporary staff for nursing and care roles and carried out the survey, said that since 2012 the average annual cost of a single room in a residential care home has risen by £963.  The Daily Express meanwhile concentrates on the absolute numbers from the same report saying pensioners face a bill of almost £30,000 a year if they need to go into residential care.

Property

  • The Metro’s property section runs a brace of pieces on a new development within walking distance of the medieval town of Saffron Walden, The Avenue.  This is a development within mature tree-lined avenues and landscaped gardens.  Developer Hill Residential is helping to sell a mix of properties to appeal to all buyers, from first-timers to families and downsizers; CEO Andy Hill and says the properties are suitable for buyers considering relocating from London.  That may be a smart move – The Guardian’s House Price Blog quotes estate agent Marsh & Parsons, who say rising property prices mean that the cost of a two-bedroom home in the richest borough in London is set to break through the £1m-mark in early 2014.  The agent said the price of these properties had risen by 14% over the past year to reach £909,203.  With an average of 18 buyers chasing every property, it said prices were set to continue to rise.  If the £1m mark seems out of reach, The Metro also looks at Gun Place, EC1 – a “bargain buy” – a one bedroom flat in a converted warehouse off Wapping High Street.  That’s on sale for £400,000 with Cluttons.