Economics

  • House prices are likely to continue rising for at least another ten years, George Osborne suggested yesterday when he attacked “Nimbys” for slowing down planning reforms – reported on the front page of The Times by Sam Coates, Philip Aldrick and Francis Elliott. The Chancellor told peers that the shortage of housing was an historic problem as he stressed that the coalition was trying to boost supply as well as providing cheaper home loans to struggling families. “I imagine if we were to assemble again in ten years’ time, we would still be talking about the challenge of making sure that our housing supply keeps up with demand,” he told the House of Lords Economics Affairs Committee. Mr Osborne defended the Help to Buy policy in the face of criticism from Liberal Democrats such as Vince Cable, who suggested last week reducing the maximum home purchase of £600,000.

 

Personal Finance

  • While The Sun’s leader is dedicated to energy prices, the Daily Mail looks at miss-selling of superfluous insurance against credit card fraud along with a brief history of miss-selling scandals – from pensions mis-selling scandal, endowment mortgages, and Payment Protection Insurance to interest-rate swap loans and packaged bank accounts. Some 7 million customers of banks such as Barclays, Santander and RBS have been conned into paying up to £1.3billion for policies they don’t need – Lloyds is now implicated as well. The Mail says “though the products mis-sold may have varied, one mystery endures. Why, after this long history of deception and grand larceny, has not a single senior banker been hauled before the courts?…. This fraud won’t cease until the guilty are behind bars.”

 

Property

  • Prince Charles has waded into the battle for residents of Somerset according to the front page of The Times, The Guardian and the Daily Mail. The Mirror and the Daily Telegraph are unlikely bedfellows but not only do they also put Charles’ criticism of the official response to the crisis on the front page – they also run editorials on it. Although it was not overtly political, the Daily Telegraph compared the Prince’s visit (he was greeted warmly) to that of Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, who was met with placards and jeers. The Telegraph says the visit “reminded us in what low regard quangocrats – such as the mysteriously absent Chris Smith, who runs the Environment Agency – are held.” The Mirror’s Leader piece, on the other hand says the Prince of Wales criticising the disastrously slow response… “is a royal seal of disapproval on David Cameron’s Government”.

 

Recruitment

  • The Daily Express says “Britain’s overstretched public services are nearing breaking point” blaming immigration. “One in four babies born in this country have a mother who comes from outside the UK, while Afghan and Somali women are having four or more children, more than twice the national average. They will… need medical care before, during and after the birth… and that’s before the needs of schooling and housing even enter the equation…. This simply has got to stop. The Prime Minister has talked grandiosely about bringing net migration figures into the tens of thousands (and even that would be too much in this overcrowded little isle) and yet it has been revealed that net migration from the EU rose to 106,000 in the year ending June 2013, up from 72,000 the previous year. And that was before immigration controls on people arriving from Eastern Europe were lifted in January. Labour’s stance on immigration was one of the wickedest policies it pursued in its 13 years of office, a course of action foisted on the electorate for utterly cynical reasons which has changed the face of this country for ever.” The Express concludes, “Mr Cameron must act to stem further damage. And fast.”
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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.

UK Paper Summary: 25th November 2013

Economics
The front page of the Daily Mail says Britain’s two state-backed banks have been accused of running thousands of small firms by using “disgraceful” business practices.  RBS and Lloyds “harmed their customers through their decisions and caused their financial downfall” according to a bombshell report released today by Laurence Tomlinson.  The report claims RBS acted like a “hit squad” by deliberately causing healthy businesses to go bust for its own gain.

 

Personal Finance
Immigrants and the seriously ill are in line for “a fresh Tory welfare raid” according to Tom McTague, in the Daily Mirror.  More than 500,000 sufferers of long-term conditions such as cancer face losing benefits currently paid to them as they train for a return to work.

 

Property
In the Daily Express, Sarah O’Grady reports that house prices jumped by £7430 last month – and are up £1,300 a week according to estate agency Sequence.  Richard Sexton, director of e.surv chartered surveyors said, “Help to Buy has opened a flood of new buyers, causing prices to surge upwards.”  The second phase of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme was launched in October and offers lenders a taxpayer-backed guarantee on 95 per cent mortgages on homes costing up to £600,000. In the first month, 2,000 sales were arranged.

 

Employment & Recruitment
The FT’s editorial looks at university degrees pointing out that, since the 1963 Robbins report, widening access to university has been a central aim of UK education policy.  Roughly half of young people now study for a degree, against 4 per cent when the report was written.  

university_2525188b

But the FT’s stance is that rising participation is welcome only if the benefits justify the cost: “young people’s horizons will not be widened by pushing university for its own sake.”

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.

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.