Monthly Archives: May 2015

Who waits to be a millionaire

Rising incomes for women mean that over the course of the last year they have shaved on average nine months off the age they will be when they reach £1 million in lifetime earnings. Prudential has analysed the latest release of the ONS Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings1, and found that a woman earning the average wage for her age over the course of her career will need to work until she is 69 years and seven months old to earn a total of £1 million. However, the figure is moving in the right direction, as last year the average woman needed to work until they were 70 years and five months old, and in 2012 a woman would have had to work until she was nearly 72 years and six months old to bank her first million.
The latest figures also show that a man earning the average income for his age throughout his working life will hit the million pound milestone at just over 50 years and eight months old. While women appear to be seeing the benefits of rising incomes in this year’s results, men are banking their first million only a week earlier than they did in last year’s analysis. Despite the large gap of almost 19 years between the amount of time it takes women and men to reach £1 million in career earnings, the fact it is reducing could explain why confidence about retirement incomes is returning among women about to give up work.
Prudential’s ‘Class of 2015’ research has recently revealed that the expected annual retirement income of £14,300 for women retiring this year is the highest in the eight-year history of the study. The average worker, covering both men and women, will be nearly 56 and a half years old by the time they’ll have banked their first million and they will pay more than £212,300 in tax and national insurance; women will pay £51,400 less than men, as a result of the earnings gap between the genders.

Disappointed of MMR

Almost half (45%) of those who planned to buy a property since the introduction of the Government’s new affordability rules last year have failed to do so.
The findings indicate that continued confusion means many people have been disappointed since the introduction of the new rules through the Mortgage Market Review (MMR). A quarter claim that the MMR has impacted their ability to buy a property, while a further third (37%) report that the changes have made them feel less in control of securing a mortgage. These findings are revealed in Experian’s latest insight report, The Mortgage Muddle – One Year After The MMR.
The research went on to reveal that among those who were unable to buy since the introduction of the MMR, many still appear to be overlooking the basics in financially preparing to apply for a mortgage. Almost half (46%) have never checked their credit report, meaning they have no indication of how a lender might view their ability to repay money.
One year on, it appears that this “Mortgage Muddle” is continuing to affect many. Of 1,500 respondents who either bought or planned to buy a property in the last year. 62% were not aware that lenders may require bigger deposits (worryingly, 23% believe they could apply for mortgages with smaller deposits than before), 37% didn’t recognise that lenders would now be more careful on whether they could afford repayments, and 15% mistakenly believe that lenders have now relaxed their lending criteria as a result of the MMR.
Worryingly, 11% of those who were unsuccessful did not know why or haven’t asked their lender, leaving them at a significant disadvantage when it comes to improving their chances of being accepted in the future.

Household bills a thing of the past?

According to the latest research from Halifax, the 27th is the day in the month of May when the average UK household has worked enough days to pay off their main living costs. Based on the average UK household monthly living cost of £2,043 and the average gross monthly household income of £2,956, Halifax has calculated that, looking across the calendar month of May, the 27th would be ‘Income Independence Day’. This is the day that living costs have been covered and an average households’ monthly income becomes their own to use as they wish for the remainder of the calendar month.
Households in Yorkshire and the Humber and the North West had a shorter wait this month for the money they earn to be their own to spend on whatever they wanted, having, on average, paid off their living costs two days ago on 20th May. Unsurprisingly, those in London must wait another four days for their Income Independence Day to arrive on the 26th May, before they can enjoy the fruits of their labour.
Across each of the nations, Scotland had the shortest wait (20th), followed by Wales and Northern Ireland (21st). There is little difference for households that rent rather than pay a mortgage, with the day where they have paid off all of their living costs falling on the 23rd, just one day later than the overall national average.
The research also shows that if just income tax and the cost of housing is taken into consideration, there is still at least a two week (14 days) wait until these have been paid off, and this stretches to three weeks (21 days) in London. On average, across the UK, households waited until 15 May to have worked to pay off these costs alone.

“Totting” it all up

UK parents spend around £35,000 on their children by the time they reach their fifth birthday, according to research released today by Aviva. This adds up to a total of more than £28 billion spent on the nation’s 4 million under-fives each year. The research has been carried out to support Aviva’s re-launch of its ‘free parent life cover’ which offers £15,000 of life insurance to mums and dads, and is now available to parents who register up to their children’s fourth birthday.
A study of more than 2,000 parents with children aged 0-5, has discovered that parents typically spend £7,026 a year – or £586 a month – on essentials and indulgences for their youngsters. This includes the cost of everything from basics such as nappies and milk formula, to extras such as toys and baby ballet classes.
The cost of raising children to age five also differs widely across the country, with parents in London paying more than double the amount paid by parents in Wales and the North West. Those in the capital say that they pay an average of £894 per month – or £10,731 per year. This is in comparison to a more modest £408 a month (or £4,901 annually) in Wales.
The research also revealed that parents feel under considerable pressure to spend on their youngsters. One in five (18%) say they feel compelled to spend in order to keep up with other parents. This is perhaps fuelled by the fact that more than a third (36%) of parents questioned say they know other parents who boast about how much they spend on their children. However only a modest one in seven (14%) admit to giving in to their children’s demands and buying things they don’t really need. Four out of 10 (42%) parents of 0-5s have planned for the unexpected by taking out life insurance, while one in five (20%) have made a will.

And finally Cash in the garage

Boxes of unsold and unwanted Action Man and Star Wars toys that lay untouched in a retired salesman’s garage for decades fetched £180,000 at auction this week. One collector paid £5,400 plus commission for a rare Action Man judo outfit while publicity photos for a Boba Fett toy made more than £2,300 when the estimate had been £40-60. When the judo set went on sale in 1970 it retailed for 12 shillings, or 60p.
Another bidder even paid £160 for an empty cardboard box in which Star Wars figures had been packaged at the Palitoy factory. The final total stood at £180,000, with collectors paying more than £200,000 in total once commission had been added. The top end of the auctioneers’ estimate had been £81,000 for the day’s sales.
When Palitoy ceased trading, rep Doug Carpenter was allowed to keep unsold stock and he kept boxes of it in his loft and garage. As it turned out, Mr Carpenter had unwittingly been holding on to toys which were worth well into six figures to collectors. The valuer said: “It was unbelievable to see all the boxes coming out with stock that was factory fresh, which hadn’t been opened, it was like a time capsule.”


Weekly Round-up, 22nd May 2015.

No speeches, just Thank You.

This week, at the spectacular Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, HomeLoan Partnership celebrated winning Best Network for the 4th consecutive year.

Launched in 2009, the Financial Reporter Industry Awards were developed to support the industry by promoting good practice and excellent service, and to reward those who upheld these values.

We would like to thank everyone who voted for us and, without a panel or shortlist, it means that this award truly reflects the industry’s opinion and a clear recognition for all of the hard work of our staff supporting members in delivering good customer outcomes.

I believe.

Households perceive that the value of their home rose in May, according to the House Price Sentiment Index (HPSI) from Knight Frank and Markit Economics. Some 20.2% of the 1,500 households surveyed across the UK said that the value of their home had risen over the last month, while 4.1% reported a fall. This gave the HPSI a reading of 58.0, the twenty-sixth consecutive month that the reading has been above 50.

This is a slight decrease on last month’s reading of 58.2, indicating that households may have factored in the uncertainty caused by the General Election to perceived price growth. Any figure over 50 indicates that prices are rising, and the higher the figure, the steeper the increase. Any figure below 50 indicates that prices are falling. The overall reading remains well below its record high of 63.2 achieved in May last year.

Households in all eleven regions reported that prices rose in May, with Londoners (64.8) reporting the biggest perceived rate of house price growth over the course of the month. They were followed by households in the South East (61.6) and those in the East of England (61.2). While still positive, households in Wales reported the smallest price rises.

Some 6.4% of UK households said they planned to buy a property in the next 12 months, down from 6.5% a year previously. On a regional basis, nearly one in ten households in the North East is planning a purchase in the next 12 months, followed by those living in London where 8.4% of households said they would be buying a property in 2015. Individuals aged between 25 and 34 are more likely to be considering buying a home in the short term, with 10% of such respondents saying they planned to purchase a home within the next 12 months compared to 4.4% of respondents aged 55 and above.


The latest Lloyds Bank Savings Report shows that people are feeling confident about their savings, with over two thirds of people surveyed having saved over the past 12 months. This is an overall improvement of 5% from the previous quarter of those saying that they been able to save regularly throughout the year. Almost one in ten (9%) have been able to save over £1,000 in the last month. This doubles to nearing one in five (18%), for those who have saved £500 or more.

Current levels of savings also paint a positive picture with 23% of respondents having more than four times their household monthly income in accessible savings.

Men are seen to be better savers than women, with 21% of men saving more than £500 last month, compared to 14% of women. When considering the main reason to save, men are significantly more likely than women to save to fund their retirement, with 15% of men saving compared to 9% of women.

However, women are more cautious when it comes to their savings, with 30% saying that they save for a rainy day, compared to 26% of men. Amongst those who are saving up for something in the short term, men (18%) are more likely than women (11%) to be saving up for entertainment goods, such as TV, computer, tablet or console.

The top reasons people are saving include putting money aside for financial security (60%), nearing half (44%) save out of habit, with a similar proportion saving towards a short term goal, such as a holiday or new car (43%).

Home but no life.

It is the dream of many young people to climb the property ladder, and get the keys to their own front door, however research by Sainsbury’s Life Insurance indicates that around 38% of cohabitees who own their own home, do not have life insurance.

Of these cohabiting homeowners without life insurance, 46% say that they would have difficulty meeting their financial commitments should they or their partner no longer be able to work.

According to the Office of National Statistics (ONS) 43% of 25-34 year-olds are homeowners. The latest ONS figures also show that cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family-type in the UK.


Health Help.

New research from Bupa the UK private health provider has revealed some key factors that people believe would help them manage and maintain their health and wellbeing. The nationwide survey found a real desire for help in making the day-to-day management of healthcare easier, including improved access to digital healthcare services as well as a call for more support from people over 55 years-old to keep independence later in life.

According to the research nearly half of respondents (42%) spend over five hours managing and maintaining their health and wellbeing in an average month, with 19% spending more than 15 hours. It is therefore unsurprising that the use of digital and technology in healthcare has widespread appeal; six in ten (58%) think that being able to access more healthcare services digitally would make the daily management of their health and wellbeing easier.

In addition, over a third (36%) think being given access to more engaging tools (e.g. apps) to help them stay healthy would make the day-to-day management of their health and wellbeing easier. However, only 16% of respondents stated that they currently use digital healthcare services, whereas two thirds (66%) regularly use digital services to manage other areas of their lives such as banking.

And finally…what’s in a word?

Shizzle meaning “for sure” is just one of 6500 additions to the new Scrabble dictionary reflecting the changing times, the growth of technology in all our lives and probably a desire by the manufacturer to attract a younger audience.

Slang from social media can now be used, including Lolz (laughs), facetime (the phone application) and bezzy (best friend). Those who disagree may close their cakeholes (mouths) if a new word wuz dench (was excellent), obvs (obviously).

Words that are approved for Scrabble tournaments and evenings round the family table now include Twerking (dance), devo (short for devolution, as in Devo Max), vape (to inhale from an electric cigarette), onesie (one piece pajamas), shootie (shoe that covers the ankle), cakeages (restaurant charges levied for serving a customer’s own cake), and podiumed (to finish in the top three, especially at the Olympics) all make the list.

Helen Newstead, head of language content at Collins, said the internet had revolutionised Scrabble, adding: “Now people use slang in social media posts, tweets, blogs, comments, text messages – you name it – so there’s a host of evidence for informal varieties of English that simply didn’t exist before.”

Of course these may now be legitimate words for Scrabble, but the spell-check on your computer still doesn’t like them!

Collins Official Scrabble Words is compiled using the Collins Corpus, the world’s largest language database, and includes words from Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and the USA all brought together in a single list.

Are you getting the picture?

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders lending in April was fractionally down on what was a strong previous month but, overall, they are suggesting the market is on the “cusp” of a modest lending recovery. In their analysis they suggest earnings growth continues to outstrip inflation which isn’t hard if you hang your hat on the consumer price index that turned negative this month, and of course mortgages are offered at extremely competitive rates. Unemployment fell and average pay rises are coming out at 2%, and of course we have the impact of oil and groceries that have all come together to paint a great economic picture for the UK at least for a few months to come.

Talking about pictures, the Bank of England has decided that it will be up to the members of the public to nominate people of historic significance from the visual arts to appear on the new £20 note. Those having their image on the bank note can include artists, sculptors, printmakers, designers, craftspeople, ceramicists, architects, fashion designers, photographers and filmmakers – whose work potentially shaped British thought, innovation, leadership, values and society. Of course with the payments council telling us that we are losing our love of cash in favour of the card, how long the winner will receive payment for their image rights is anyone’s guess. Cash machine manufacturers must still confident about their future with the number of free-to-use cash machines breaking through the 50k mark in 2014 and 91% of us withdrawing cash from an ATM at least once a month. One manufacturer when questioned about the lack of £5 notes in their machines blamed the need to have dispensing capacity which begs the question – can anyone remember the recession?

Neil Hoare

Commercial Director, HomeLoan Partnership

HLP collects Best Network award (again) at Financial Reporter Industry Awards.

Best Network 2015: Stuart Borchard, RCM, and Christopher Tanner, CEO, HomeLoan Partnership

Last night, at the spectacular Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, HomeLoan Partnership celebrated winning Best Network for the 4th consecutive year.

Launched in 2009, the Financial Reporter Industry Awards were developed to support the industry by promoting good practice and excellent service, and to reward those who upheld these values. We’d like to thank everyone who voted for us and, without a panel or shortlist, it means that this award truly reflects both the industry’s opinion and a clear recognition for all of the hard work of our staff supporting members in delivering good customer outcomes.

Celebrating 4 years as the UK's Best Network

Everyone at HomeLoan Partnership is dedicated to continuing to build upon the strong foundations of the Network, delivering choice, innovation, trust and professionalism in its support for the Mortgage and Protection Intermediary.

To find out more about HomeLoan Partnership, visit our website, or call us on 01903 602 664.

Weekly Round-up, 15th May 2015.

The only way is up.

House prices were driven up again in April as the data showed the third consecutive monthly decline in supply with new instructions falling at their fastest rate since May 2009, according to the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey.

While 33% more surveyors saw prices rise in April, the highest reading since last summer, new instructions slipped to a net balance of -21% – the eighth consecutive drop in the last nine months. Moreover, the flow of second hand stock onto the market dropped in most parts of the country.

Alongside this, for the first time since August 2014, respondents reported an increase in prices in every area of the UK due to the shift in tone in the London market, where 28% more respondents saw prices rise (compared with 6% more surveyors in March who saw house prices fall).

Near term member expectations for prices and sales continue to point to relatively modest gains, but 72% of members expect prices to rise over the course of the next twelve months. Meanwhile, in the lettings sector, there is no slowing in the growth of tenant demand, which is helping to underpin higher expectations for rents.

Although anecdotal evidence suggests that these trends may have in part been a result of uncertainty ahead of the election, they are also reflective of deeper underlying problems. The downward trend in owner-occupation rates across the country is a visible sign that affordability constraints bite ever deeper, as does the squeeze on household budgets from higher rents.

The only way is still up.

According to the Halifax House Price Index, House prices in the three months to April were 2.2% higher than in the preceding three months. This measure of the underlying rate of house price growth fell for the first time in 2015 following three successive rises. In contrast, annual house price growth increased slightly, from 8.1% in March to 8.5%. Nonetheless, the annual rate remains in the narrow range of 8-9% where it has been since the start of 2015 and is below last July’s peak of 10.2%.

According to the Bank, housing demand is being supported by a number of factors including economic improvement, rising employment and low mortgage rates. At the same time, supply remains very tight with a general shortage of properties available for sale. This combination has kept house price inflation steady in recent months with prices increasing by 2.2-2.6% on a quarterly basis and at an annual rate of 8-9%.

House prices are continuing to increase more quickly than average earnings despite the return to real earnings growth over the past few months. The resulting rise in the level of house prices in relation to earnings should constrain house price growth and activity over the remainder of the year. The annual rate of house price growth is forecast by the Halifax to end the year at 3-5%.

Pen pals.

This week the Governor of the Bank of England (BoE), on the back of the latest inflation report, has written another in what is likely to be a sequence of open letters to the Chancellor. That’s because, as expected, inflation fell to zero in March, two percentage points below the target and the lowest since official Consumer Price Index (CPI) data began.

According to the Bank of England, the single most important reason for below-target inflation has been the sharp drop in energy prices. In March, oil was around 40% cheaper than in the middle of last year and the price of petrol at the pump has fallen by more than a tenth. Food prices have also dropped, and sterling’s appreciation over the past two years has continued to depress import prices.

Taken together, the Central Bank suggests these factors explain around three quarters of the shortfall in inflation from target, with the remainder reflecting subdued growth in domestic costs, particularly wages. The MPC expects the impact of past falls in commodity prices to be relatively short lived and will therefore look through them in setting policy. Although it could temporarily turn negative in the near term, inflation is expected to pick up notably towards the end of the year as the past falls in prices drop out of the annual comparison.

Recent developments support the MPC’s view that we are not in a period of potentially damaging process of widespread and persistent deflation. The proportion of the CPI’s components showing positive inflation is much the same as it was during the decade prior to the crisis. More fundamentally, the economy is growing, unemployment is falling, earnings growth is improving and there is no evidence of household spending being delayed.

Summarising the report The Governor states that despite a moderately weaker outlook for demand growth relative to their February Inflation Report, a similarly weaker outlook for supply means the BoE continue to expect a sufficient firming in inflationary pressures to return to target within two years. Beyond that, and conditional on the gently rising path for Bank Rate implied by market yields, inflation is expected to rise a little above the target.

On the table.

Gastrointestinal endoscopies and biopsies were the most common procedures carried out on insured patients in UK private hospitals during 2014, according to Healthcode, the official clearing company for the private healthcare sector.

Healthcode revealed private hospitals billed for more than 827,000 procedures on admitted patients last year, including more than 70,800 diagnostic colonoscopies and gastroscopies (over 8% of the total) which are used to check for signs of cancer. Healthcode also noted from the procedure codes that these investigations were increasingly carried out during the same patient visit to minimise inconvenience and distress to the patient. Use of the code which designates consecutive gastroscopy and colonoscopy procedures nearly doubled in 2014.

Earlier this year, a national campaign to raise public awareness of oesophago-gastric cancers led by Public Health England commented that around 6,900 people are diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and 6,000 with stomach cancer each year in England and stressed the importance of early diagnosis – around 67% of people diagnosed with oesophago-gastric cancers at the earliest stage survive for at least five years but this fell to just 3% for those diagnosed at a late stage. Meanwhile bowel cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer in the country with 41,600 new cases in 2011, according to Cancer Research UK. The Charity says that bowel cancer incidence rates have increased by 6% over the last decade but death rates have fallen by 14% in the last decade largely thanks to screening and earlier diagnosis.

HLP Events: BDF Roadshow

Thank you to everyone who got on the bus over the past two weeks to attend one of the most successful Business Development Forums HLP has held. With 10 round tables discussing topics such as Social Media, Trusts, complex lending and the benefits of serious illness cover, and presentations on the new Aviva systems, Global Treatment from Friends Life and an overview of the Nationwide’s quality agenda, there was something for everyone to take back to their businesses. And it was left to HLP to highlight the great work the members do in meeting their customer’s needs, a reminder of the benefits of a right first time mentality, and how to embed the happiness advantage in their daily work.

All of us at the Network look forward to October when the bus takes to the road again and travels the length and breadth of the UK delivering ideas and opportunities to all who come along for the ride. Once again, we will be opening the doors at the events to prospective HLP members to come along and have a taste of what it’s like to be part of HomeLoan Partnership, named the UK’s Best Network for the past four years in the Financial Reporter Industry Awards.

And finally…The trail that never went cold.

Police investigating the burglary of a restaurant took inspiration from a fairy tale to solve the crime recently. Officers were called to the Build-A-Burger Restaurant in Livingston County, New York, after staff found their cash register missing.

However along with the cash register a bowl of macaroni salad had been taken, and the peckish thieves had seemingly snacked on it as they made their escape. Just like Hansel and Gretel, this left a trial of macaroni salad for the officers to follow, leading them to the culprits.

Police say they found the alleged burglars along with cash, register parts, surveillance systems parts and gloves at the end of the trail. A police statement said: ‘It was later discovered that the suspects stole a large bowl of macaroni salad, which they took turns eating, along their escape route.’

Matthew Sapetko, 34, James Marullo, 35, and Timothy Walker Jr, 23, were all charged with third-degree burglary, third-degree criminal mischief and fourth-degree grand larceny.

Love letters.

So the Governor of the Bank of England, fresh from his efforts in the London Marathon, has sharpened his pencil again in readiness to write his letter of explanation to the re-elected Chancellor about the fact that the inflation target has not been met and the impact on the UK economy.

Mr Carney has admitted in his latest update that he is going to become quite a scribe over the coming months as he waits for low fuel and grocery prices to wash through the system, and at some point he can the start to gradually increase interest rates. Of course the Bank of England are concerned about productivity of the UK workforce (probably not in the pencil manufacturing business though) and its ability to deliver the goods without the carrot of high wage increases in a low inflation market.

How will all this play out in the housing market? Well with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors predicting a house price surge now that the election is out of the way, which seems backed up by the latest numbers from the Halifax, there will come a point where the aspirational population – a phrase that we’ve heard a lot about this week – will be priced out in certain parts of the country because house price inflation outpaces wage rises for a low productivity workforce. In the next few years the challenge for all of us connected to the need to buy, sell and stay in homes will be to create an environment where pencils are used to draw up plans and we don’t need to keep using the rubber on the end to correct past mistakes or keep changing the forecast.

Neil Hoare

Commercial Director

Weekly Round-up, 8th May 2015.

Feeling good.

According to the latest Lloyds Bank Lending Report shows it appears that the people surveyed are feeling upbeat when it comes to the future of their finances. Confidence levels in paying off unsecured debt is strong, with 83% of those surveyed feeling confident or very confident that they will meet their future repayments.

Men are slightly more confident than women on the future of debt repayments, with 45% saying they feel very confident, compared to 40% of women. The top reasons people have taken out a personal loan include consolidating debts so that they are all in one place (27%), purchasing a car or bike (26%), as well as making home improvements (20%).

Of those who used lending to fund a special occasion, 70% borrowed money to pay for Christmas while nearing half (46%), did so to pay for someone else’s birthday. In addition, 22% of men are planning to use a loan to fund an anniversary, whereas only 8% of women are planning to do the same.

Commitment to claims.

Royal London’s UK Intermediary protection business – which includes the brands Scottish Provident and Bright Grey – has paid out £132 million to critical illness policyholders during 2014. During the year 94% of all critical illness claims were paid with just 1% of claims declined for non-disclosure.

The average pay out for a critical illness claim was £87,069 with the largest pay out at just over £900,000. The average age of a claimant was 48 years old and the youngest adult claimant was just 24 years old. Around two thirds of all critical illness claims were for cancer (65%), followed by heart attack (13%) and stroke (6%).

In addition, 98% of all term life cover claims were paid in 2014 totalling just over £58 million.

Pet power.

Pet insurers paid out £602 million in claims in 2014 – the equivalent of £1.65m a day and an increase of nearly 15% on the previous year – according to the latest figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), published this week. The average cost of a claim has risen 7% to £679, while for dogs it’s even higher at £683.

The number of UK animals covered by pet insurance policies has now passed 3 and a half million but the proportion without insurance remains much higher. Out of an estimated dog population of 9 million, approximately 2.4 million are covered by pet insurance – leaving nearly 75% of dog owners without it. For cats, only 15% benefit from pet insurance – around 1.2 million out of an estimated population of 7.9 million.

Insurers are also providing cover for more than 250,000 other pets such as horses, rabbits and even exotic animals such as snakes.

Je regret rien (I regret nothing).

Not saving enough (36%), not saving into a pension (25%) and getting divorced (13%) are the top financial regrets for the UK’s 40 to 70 year olds reveals Partnership. With an increasing number of people being asked to make complex decisions around retirement, the specialist insurer wanted to understand more about what people felt their biggest financial mistakes had been.

Overall, up to two thirds (61%) of people felt that not saving enough was their biggest error – either generally (36%) or into their pension (25%). Getting married and subsequently divorcing (13%) was seen as the third biggest financial error a person could make followed by putting money into poorly performing investments (12%) and delaying buying a house (8%).

While the number of people who regret not saving more halves as people age – 46% (40 to 50 years old) to 23% (61 to 70 years old), the number of people who regret not making more pension provision only falls by 1% (23% to 22%). This seems to suggest that as people age – and retirement becomes a pressing reality – they focus more on the need to put aside money into their pension rather than general savings.

See more at:

And finally…Last votes please.

A pub has proved popular with voters after being converted into a polling station for the day. The Hare and Hounds, in Corsham, Wiltshire, has been used as a polling station since 2010 and many voters enjoy a pint after casting their ballot.

Landlord Mark Foster, 41, is licensed to serve alcohol at the pub from 8am, an hour after voting began yesterday “This is the fourth time that this pub has been used, it was first used in 2010,” he said. “It is extremely popular, it is in the heart of the community and very well-known. Having a polling station here makes it accessible for voters – it is an easy place to find, with a big car park.
“Of course it is always nice to stop for a drink after voting too.”

The pub will close at 11pm – an hour after polling stations shut across the country. Matthew Dean, 43, a local resident, said the pub was in a target seat for the Conservative Party. He said: “The pub is lovely – it has car parking, it is warm, it is undercover. There’s no question that it encourages people to vote. It is so accessible to people here and that’s really important. It gives people that boost to drive up and vote and maybe enjoy a drink after.”

Blue is the colour…and green, and brown.

Whilst I’m no Chelsea fan and, obviously, my political allegiances are only visible if you are standing next to me in the voting booth, you can’t help but think that blue is the colour of choice for 2015. The Market, which seems to have gained a personality over the past few years, apparently doesn’t like confusion and therefore reacted well, although I’m not sure it was due to Chelsea winning the premier league.

After seeing a positive response for the share price in Banks and Builders, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the manifesto commitment of the conservative party for housing. Whilst there may be dispute over the costings of the extension of Right to Buy to housing associations, giving a suggested 1.3 million occupants the opportunity to buy their own home at a discount, there is the promise that housing associations would be able to use the cash from sales to build replacement homes. In addition to building more homes, the Conservatives have also pledged a £1 billion brownfield regeneration fund and given promises to change the law so that local people have the final say on wind farm applications. The plan: To ensure local people have more control over planning and protect the green belt supporting locally-led garden cities and towns in places where communities want them, such as Ebbsfleet and Bicester. The Conservatives say that brownfield land will be used “as much as possible” and that local authorities will be required to have “a register of what is available” and ensure that 90 per cent of brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020. You can see why Builders are feeling good.

Neil Hoare

Commercial Director

Weekly Round-up, 1st May 2015.

Upper limit.

A Saga Personal Finance poll of 6,243 people aged over 50 has shown there is concern about the behaviours of many mortgage lenders*.

Many older people are complaining about their bank or mortgage provider introducing arbitrary upper age limits on lending criteria and also placing a bar on older borrowers getting better deals. This is against a backdrop of working life being extended through the raising of the state retirement age, the abolishing of firms being able to set compulsory retirement ages and moreover the desire of many people to continue to work full or part-time in later life. So it would appear that some mortgage lenders are out of touch with society and the world of work.

When Saga asked a panel of over 6,000 people aged over 50, 85% of respondents thought that lending criteria should be based on ability to pay and not just on a person’s age and over half (52%) thought that the Regulator should intervene to ensure fair treatments by mortgage lenders.

In terms of individuals experiencing discrimination 12% of those aged 50-59 who expressed an opinion said that they thought that they had been prevented from moving their mortgage to a more competitive deal because of their age.

* Populus interviewed 6,243 UK adults aged 50 and over, online between 12th and 18th December 2014. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules

Upper limit.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI) this week, the cost of home insurance has continued to fall for the first quarter of 2015. The average combined building and contents policy now costs 79 pence a day – less than the price of a takeaway coffee.

The average annual premium paid for a combined buildings and contents policy was £287, or £5.52 a week. This is down 1% on the previous quarter and down 2% compared with the same quarter last year. The average annual premium paid for buildings insurance was £225 or £4.33 a week. This is a reduction of 3% compared with the last quarter of 2014, and also down 3% on the first quarter of 2014.

For contents only insurance, the average annual premium paid was £118, or £2.27 a week. This is down 5% on the final quarter of last year and is 8% lower than the first quarter of 2014.

In its research the ABI also highlighted that the average insurance pay out for a home flooded during the 2013/14 winter floods was around £30,000. In the aftermath insurers dealt with 18,700 claims for flooding and nearly 450,000 for storm damage. Claims costs for other perils can also be very high, with an average claim for domestic fire damage of £11,000.

*The Quarterly Average Household Premium Tracker gathers information from ABI members, who represent 90% of the UK home insurance market

Pension helps 1 in 4 landlords.

The latest BM Solutions buy to let quarterly index shows 1 in 4 (26%) of landlords would consider using a lump sum from their pension to invest in property, with a further 24% undecided.
The quarterly BM Solutions / BDRC Continental Landlord Panel* revealed that while 77% of landlords view their property portfolio as part of their pension provision, 38% are not planning to withdraw a lump sum from their pension to invest in property or don’t have enough in their pension to do so. This rises to 48% for landlords with larger portfolios (20+ properties).

Year on year, there has been a small increase in landlords’ confidence in the UK’s financial market during Q1, with 36% rating its prospects for the next 3 months as good / very good compared to 34% who were upbeat in Q1 2014. However, confidence in the UK private rental sector continues to ease, with 53% reporting positive expectations over the next three months compared to 61% who said this in Q1 2014. As such, the research found almost 1 in 7 landlords purchased a property in Q1 compared to 1 in 5 in Q4, with 3 in 10 intending to do so in 2015. Nevertheless, 3 in 10 landlords are still looking to expand their portfolios in the next 12 months.

At the same time, the buy to let market has continued its strong start to the year, with the incidence of rental voids and tenant arrears falling to an all time low, as just 29% of landlords experienced a void period in Q1 and just over a third (35%) having faced tenant arrears in the past year.

Tenant demand remains high in Q1, with 38% of landlords reporting demand had increased whereas only a minority (8%) found tenant demand to have declined. Just under half (46%) of landlords report seeing rents increase in the areas where they let over the last 12 months, with just 5% stating they have noticed rents falling. After rising to 6.4% in Q4 2014, the average rental yield achieved has fallen to its lowest level for five years in Q1 (5.7%).

The average buy to let portfolio is now worth £1.2million, and generates a gross rental income of £53k a year. With the average portfolio having 7.9 properties in Q1, this equates to a per property value of £150,000, each generating an average of £6,700 in rental income. Portfolios in Central London generate the highest gross rental income at £78,000, with Wales the lowest at £44,000.

7familes helps number 6.

Last week was Depression Awareness Week, an attempt to help improve our understanding of the various different mental illnesses that affect people and how we can react positively to them.
The fact that one in four people is hit with depression at some stage means the chance of it happening to you, if it hasn’t already, are high. The problems it brings aren’t just emotional and physical, but also financial, as Londoner Paul Norbert discovered. The 44-year-old, who lives in Notting Hill, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his mid-twenties. He has had difficulty working ever since.

Norbert’s problems coping with the illness mounted, leading him to a drink and drugs problem which in turn left him divorced and jobless. But now as part of the national “7families” campaign to raise awareness of the financial and emotional damage that long-term illness or disability can do. Norbert will receive financial support and advice to help improve his home life, aid rehabilitation and hopefully help him return to work.

Get on the HLP tour bus.

Next week sees the start of the HLP business development forums. If you haven’t already signed up to see how our business partners can help you grow your income then visit the Members’ Area (or Events page for non-members) for more information on where the HLP bus is being parked.

Live Life to the full.

If you want to live to 100, stop smoking, keep your cholesterol down, and drink no more than four cups of coffee a day. Those are the three top tips from scientists who analysed data on 855 Swedish men born in 1913, including 10 who celebrated their 100th birthday. It also helps to own a house by the age of 50 – indicating a high standard of living – display a good level of middle-age fitness and to have a mother who lived a long time.

Researchers at the University of Gothenburg found that 27% of the study participants survived to the age of 80 and 13% to 90. Of all the deaths occurring after the age of 80, 42% were attributed to heart disease, 20% to infection, 8% to stroke, 8% to cancer, 6% to pneumonia, and 16% to other causes.

Surveys at ages 54, 60, 65, 75, 80 and 100 allowed the scientists to highlight factors that promoted longevity. Two of the centenarians dropped out of the study due to dementia and one for personal reasons. Of the remaining seven, two lived at home and five in assisted facilities. None smoked, and all displayed good temporal and spatial cognition which involves a sense of time and space. In addition, despite universally using walking frames, every 100-year-old was slim and had a good posture.

The findings appear in the Scandinavian Cardiovascular Journal.

A week in Politics

This time next week we will know the actual result of the general election, but won’t necessarily know the result of the general election as the doors close, the negotiations start and we find out who can get their Queen’s speech signed off.

With housing being such a talking point over the past few weeks, I’m sure lenders, builders and consumers are waiting on whose manifesto or jointly agreed combifesto gets the stamp of approval from Her Majesty. Many were suggesting that the market has been on hold until May 8th whilst the buses travel around the UK, but it seems not to be the case as lending finally picks up and the Nationwide tells us the average price of a house has grown almost 17% in the past 2 years. No wonder the parties are exploring every which way they can to get people on the housing ladder when you compare 17% to the average growth of savings accounts or wages.

If the supply/demand debate isn’t resolved soon, then it’s hard to see how home ownership for the next generation of the UK can be an achievable goal in life. For those of us who started work in the early 80’s, we can remember wage increases of 15% per annum which helped tremendously to get onto the housing ladder. But, of course, at that time inflation was running at a similar level and there was no price war at the supermarkets and cheaper petrol meant 2 star rather than 4. None of the parties have highlighted the gap between HPI and CPI or even RPI, three letter acronyms that have such a big impact in our lives – I’m surprised controls haven’t been discussed as building more homes seems to be a pipedream. Roll on next Friday or the following Monday, or even the following Friday, when we can get back to a normal TV schedule to sit in front of in houses that can make more money for us than working for a living.

Neil Hoare

Commercial Director