Subdued

According to the latest House Price Index from Halifax, house prices grew by 1.5% on a monthly basis, in contrast to a decline seen by the lender in April. The month on month figures are, on the face of it, more volatile than the quarterly or annual measures. In the three months to May house prices were 0.2% higher than the previous quarter and on an annual basis they are 1.9% higher. Both of these measures have fallen since reaching a recent peak, in the final months of last year.

Halifax suggest that these latest price changes reflect a relatively subdued UK housing market. After a sharp rise in January, industry data mortgage indicates that approvals have softened in the past three months, whilst both newly agreed sales and new buyer enquiries are showing signs of stabilisation having fallen in recent months.

Halifax highlight that the continuing strength of the labour market is supporting house prices. In the three months to March the number of full-time employees increased by 202,000, the biggest rise in three years. Halifax are also seeing pay growth edging up and consumer price inflation falling, and as a result the squeeze on real earnings has started to ease. With interest rates still very low Halifax see mortgage affordability at very manageable levels providing a further underpinning to prices.  The average house price is now £224,439

Almost Critical?

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has published a new Guide to Minimum Standards for Critical Illness Cover following an extensive consultation and review of the Statement of Best Practice for Critical Illness Cover through 2017/18. The review was one of the most comprehensive to date, and has seen the Guide redesigned to ensure greater clarity and understanding for customers when comparing critical illness products. The ABI has also developed an accompanying consumer guide to provide people with clear information on what critical illness insurance is and the questions they might ask themselves before purchasing this insurance product.

The new Guide to Minimum Standards was put to public consultation in November 2017 with the consultation process concluding in late January 2018. The ABI received a strong response from insurers, advisers, charities and other interested organisations. Respondents to this consultation supported the proposed changes to the Guide, which has seen an enhanced minimum standard definition in several areas, and other changes to definitions reflecting the evolution of medical understanding and treatment for a number of serious illnesses.

The revised version was drafted through the work of the ABI Critical Illness Working Group and the ABI Protection Committee, before being approved by the ABI Board earlier this month. To view the new Guide to Minimum Standards, please click here. To view the new Consumer Guide, please click here.

Helping drive the economy

Research from Santander reveals the drivers behind today’s “pocket money economy” and illustrates the ways in which the UK’s children are learning about earning money, paying taxes and receiving fines in their own homes.  While 77 per cent of parents provide their children with a basic amount of pocket money, Santander’s data also showed that ‘extra’ money is being given by a third of parents for a range of activities including helping around the home, behaving well and performing well in sports. The average amount earned in a month for these activities is £7.70 with the highest earning activity being getting to school or college on time.

But for those who step out of line and fail to carry out their duties, financial ‘fines’ can be expected with 18 per cent of parents taking money away for failing to complete household chores and 15 per cent for behaving badly at school. Meanwhile 13 per cent of enterprising parents are applying ‘tax’ to children’s earnings to support the running of the home. A further 42 per cent of parents who pay pocket money would consider ‘taxing’ their children and believe this to be a great way to prepare them for the real world.

Differences in ‘income’ were clear across the UK with children in London being given an average of £26.70 basic pocket money against a national average of £18.36. And when it came to earning extra money, boys on average will get 33 per cent more than girls (£6.99 vs £4.67) for carrying out household chores and 50 per cent (£8.28 vs £4.18) more for good behaviour at school.

When children were asked what motivated them to complete household chores, money (43 per cent) is by far the biggest incentive with other motivators such as being given chocolate and crisps registering with just 24 per cent of children and being told they are good or getting to stay up longer appealing to only 23 per cent. When asked about saving, 84 per cent of children who get pocket money said they like to save the money they receive from their parents (89 per cent boys vs 77 per cent girls).

Record breaking

The so-called Beast from the East and Storm Emma that caused widespread disruption in late February and March led to property insurers paying out a record breaking amount in burst pipe claims in the first quarter of the year according to figures out today from the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

In the first quarter of 2018, in total, £1.25 billion was paid by insurers under domestic and commercial property insurance policies – the highest quarterly figure for two years

Insurance pay-outs to homeowners and businesses for storm, flood and burst pipe damage jumped to £361million, a massive 290% rise on the £93 million paid in the previous quarter. Some 86,000 claims were handled, compared to 29,000 in the previous quarter.  £194 million was paid to help homeowners cope with the misery of burst pipes which was the highest amount ever paid in a single quarter and compared to only £4 million paid out in quarter 4, 2017.

On commercial insurance, weather damage and escape of water claims also rose, up to £188 million, compared to £107 million in the previous quarter.

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