The average home could soon cost £300,000 because of price inflation caused by the Government’s new homebuying scheme, economists warn. George Osborne announced the Help to Buy scheme in this year’s Budget to help struggling buyers get on the housing ladder with just a 5 per cent deposit. But a report by former Bank of England economists says the scheme is ‘reckless’ and could push up prices by almost 30 per cent by 2015.
The Help to Buy scheme recently introduced in the Government’s last Budget could create a dangerous new housing bubble, inflating prices ‘almost 20 per cent within the next two to three years’, a leading economic think-tank warned.
The scheme essentially extends an existing equity loan scheme to help people buy a new-build home with a deposit as low as 5 per cent. But a report by Fathom Consulting – run by former Bank of England economists – called it ‘reckless’, and said it could push average house prices as high as £300,000 by 2016.
‘Help to Buy uses public money to incentivise the banks to lend precisely to those individuals who, [without] the scheme, would not and should not… Continue reading
Greece has been ordered by the International Monetary Fund to do more to crack down on its ‘notorious’ tax evasion problem.
After completing its latest health check, the IMF yesterday concluded that Greece had made progress slashing debts and improving competitiveness.
But it said ‘very little progress’ had been made in tackling tax evasion.
It added: ‘The rich are not paying their fair share which has forced an excessive reliance on expenditure cuts and higher taxes on those earning a salary or a pension.’
Endemic tax evasion in Greece was a major factor in the collapse of its economy. But it is also making it harder for Greece to shore up its finances.
In a clear sign that patience is running out, the IMF said ‘decisive correction actions’ were needed, including a ‘deeper political commitment to tax administration reform’.
The IMF also said Greece must take more radical action to… Continue reading
Fed-up savers are shunning high street banks to boost their returns. They are using services that allow them to lend their money directly to borrowers and earn a premium income.
It also means that loans are offered at competitive rates. But peer-to-peer lending is not without risks. The Mail on Sunday investigates.
DEALS FOR SAVERS
Savings rates offered by banks and building societies are at an all-time low. The best instant-access account, from Nationwide Building Society, pays just two per cent. In stark contrast, peer-to-peer lenders offer rates nearly three times higher.
The country’s biggest peer-to-peer lenders are Zopa, RateSetter and Funding Circle, which between them have 95 per cent of the market.
Giles Andrews, chief executive of Zopa, says: ‘Our typical lender is a middle-England saver who is terrified about the… Continue reading
British retailers could be forced to complete dozens of American tax returns every month under new laws being introduced for online stores selling goods to customers in the US.
The legislation, facing a Senate vote tomorrow, will require any retailer with online revenue from the US of more than $1?million (£643,000) a year to collect state sales taxes from customers and pass them on to the American state where the customer lives. The US market has become increasingly important for British retailers capitalising on the demand for online shopping and British fashion brands.
Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, Next, Burberry, Asos, Net-a-Porter, Ted Baker and Jack Wills all have growing internet operations in the US and will be affected if proposals become law.
It could also hit British traders… Continue reading
Hundreds of thousands of retirees risk being short-changed if they take a cash lump sum from their final salary pensions.
In many cases, the calculations used to swap a lifetime pension for a lump sum today have failed to keep pace with financial markets. Savers may be getting less than half the ‘market value’ of the lifetime pension they give up.
Rules normally permit up to 25 per cent of the value of a pension to be taken as a lump sum on retirement, free from tax. Some longer-serving workers may have ‘preserved’ entitlements to higher lump sums.
Calculating a lump sum is relatively simple where savers have paid into a defined contribution pension. Each person has a pot of investments that is used to buy their pension and up to 25 per cent is simply hived… Continue reading
The Post Office is refusing to reveal whether it will offer branch customers a basic bank account as it prepares to launch into the banking market.
Such accounts are taken up by people who otherwise would not get access to a current account because of their failure to pass credit score tests imposed by the banks. The Post Office, with its 11,500 branches, is ideally placed to provide such a banking service and its entry would greatly reduce the number of financially excluded adults.
But last week it declined to say whether its new current account range, managed by controversial partner Bank of Ireland, would include a basic banking package.
‘We can provide no details at the moment,’ said a spokesman.
If the Post Office does not offer basic bank accounts, it is likely to be criticised by MPs across the political… Continue reading
Hot flush: A new report by trade body Unison claims that almost a third of water bills goes on profit.
Almost a third of an average water bill – more than £100 a year – goes on profit, compared with 9 per cent in the energy sector, a new report claimed today.
Water bills have risen more than twice as fast as pay over the past decade in an industry which is now ‘out of control’, a study commissioned by trade union body, Unison found.
Earlier this year, industry regulator Ofwat announced a 3.5 per cent increase in the average annual bill – a hike of £13 bringing the total to £388 a year.
The research, conducted by the New Policy Institute, also found that water firms were making ‘huge profits’.
And it claimed that bills had trebled since the industry was privatised in 1989, well above increases in the… Continue reading
The UK economy faces a knife-edge verdict tomorrow as to whether it is suffering a triple-dip recession.
It will be a close-run thing as to whether official output data show that the UK economy shrank in January-to-March for a second successive quarter.
Most experts are predicting the initial estimate of gross domestic product from the Office for National Statistics will show growth of 0.1 per cent in the first three months of the year – which would mean the economy narrowly avoided its third recession since 2008.
But a volatile start to 2013 following snowstorms in January and March and ongoing pressure in the construction sector have left it hanging in the balance.
Facing mounting pressure to do more to… Continue reading
5:30pm (CLOSE): Mining stocks helped the London market end a five-day losing streak as bargain-hunters returned to boost the FTSE 100 Index.
The FTSE 100 ended up 42.9 points at 6286.6, as investors shrugged off concerns over weakness in the American and Chinese economies.
Weaker-than-expected Chinese growth this week spooked markets, while soft economic data from the US and further cracks in the eurozone also underlined the fragile global recovery. That has driven commodity prices sharply lower as traders bet on weaker demand.
The International Monetary Fund this week cut its world growth forecast for 2013 to 3.3 per cent from 3.5 per cent and warned that the ‘main challenge is very much in Europe’.
But with officials from the world’s 20 economic powerhouses meeting in Washington to search for ways… Continue reading