Monthly Archives: November 2018

Weekly Round-Up: 23rd November 2018

Take time to sell

House SellingIt takes, on average, 102 days to sell a property in the UK according to the latest Post Office Money City Rate of Sale report. The report, developed with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), looks at the average time it takes for a property to sell in 35 major cities across the UK. Overall the amount of time sellers had to wait before receiving an offer was one week more – increasing from 96 days in 2017.

Homeowners in Scottish cities Edinburgh and Glasgow will see their homes sell fastest in the UK, spending 39 and 48 days on the market, respectively. Glasgow’s market also remains particularly competitive with the fastest house price growth of major UK cities. While properties in both cities remain relatively affordable when compared to the rest of the UK, both have also seen strong population growth which has increased demand for houses in areas with an undersupply of homes.

Properties in London and Blackpool take the longest to sell – taking on average 126 and 131 days. Despite London previously having one of the most competitive property markets, its expensive properties fuelled by years of double-digit house price growth, tend to take longer to sell. Properties over £1 million take 171 days on average to sell in the capital, whereas cheaper properties take only 99 days. Meanwhile, Blackpool sits at the other end of the spectrum; properties are extremely affordable, but it has the oldest average population, and therefore, may not be benefiting from the recent rise in first-time buyer sales on the property market.

Affordability hotspots, Belfast and Swansea, have seen the biggest fall in the time properties spend on the market – 17 and 14 days less than last year, respectively. Supply of housing is relatively low at present in Belfast, meaning there is limited availability of housing stock. Houses there are spending less time on the market before being purchased. Swansea, meanwhile, is affordable and an easily commutable distance to Cardiff, which has sustained demand there and led to a fall in time spent on the market.

Today’s the day

ShoppingPeople across the UK are setting out to grab a bargain this week according to the latest Lloyds Bank Spending Power Report. With one in five hoping to save an average of £191 on their Black Friday spending, total savings could reach significant levels by the end of the day.

None are more enthusiastic than Londoners, where 30% will undertake some spending on the day. Those in the North West (22%) and Yorkshire and Humberside (21%) are also looking to take advantage. In the South West, just 13% see themselves splashing the cash, and those in Wales (16%) and the East of England (16%) are also less likely to seek potential bargains.

It’s no surprise that technology is a prime target for spenders, given how expensive these items can often be. Nearly half (45%) said they would buy small electrical goods like mobile phones and laptops, and 34% would be buying larger items such as television. One in four (24%) expect to buy household electrical items such as fridges and washing machines. Items of furniture (13%) and bags and luggage (13%) are also on the pad for savvy shoppers, and some may be weighing up a Christmas proposal with 17% looking for a discount on jewellery.

Black Friday is a fairly recent phenomenon in the UK, and it would seem millennials most likely to take part. 37% of 18-34 year olds plan to make purchases on the day, against just 9% of the over 55s. They are also more eager to make their cash go further and grab a bargain, with the average expected saving reported to be £216, against the £153 over 55s believe they will achieve. Interestingly, youngsters are more likely to be purchasing clothes in the sales (47%).

23 million a day

CarsMotor insurance pay-outs so far this year have reached a record level with over £23 million being paid every day, according to figures out this week (20 November) at the ABI’s Motor Conference. The pay-outs cover theft, own vehicle and third-party property damage, as well as personal injury compensation. Rising repair bills and theft claims are the main driving forces behind the rise.

The ABI’s latest motor claims data collected from its members highlights that, in the first nine months of the year insurers paid out a total of £6.4 billion to private motorists and in compensation to victims of motor crashes, equating to over £23 million every day. This was up 4% on the same period last year, to the highest level since ABI started collecting the data at the start of 2013.

The cost of theft claims, at £271 million, jumped by 32% on the same period last year. The number of claims settled, at 41,000, rose by 11% on last year in part reflecting the widely reported growth in keyless vehicle crime. Repair bills, which at £3 billion so far this year, have risen by 5% on the same period last year. The average repair bill this year currently stands at £2,137 with ever more sophisticated vehicle technology, such as more sensors in bumpers and windscreens, leading to a rise in repair costs.

SME Three

OfficesThe UK’s small and medium-sized businesses have created three times more jobs over the past five years than larger businesses, according to new analysis of the latest ONS data commissioned by Santander Business Banking. While firms employing more than 250 staff added around 650,000 net jobs over the five years from 2013 to 2017 (a 4% increase), those employing less than 250 added 1.7 million (a 14% increase) – underscoring just how central SMEs are to the health of the UK economy and the country’s current record high employment levels.

While larger businesses continue to employ more people in absolute terms – 16.47 million people versus 13.96 million for SMEs – Santander’s analysis suggests SMEs will overtake larger businesses as primary employers by 2030 if the five-year growth trend continues at the same pace. However, separate research commissioned by Santander Business Banking has found that significant numbers of young people are failing to recognise the significant job opportunities that SMEs offer. Just a third (35%) of Generation Z and Millennials leaving full time education say they wish to work for an SME, while an even smaller proportion, just one in six (18%), want to work for a start-up or micro business.

In contrast, the most popular career aspirations are to work for a large firm (51%), the public sector (51%) or a global multinational (49%). This is despite nearly two thirds (64%) of Generation Z and Millennials, equal to around five million young adults in the UK, saying they are concerned about their career opportunities on leaving full time education – suggesting that many are potentially discounting the role that SMEs play in the economy.

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Weekly Round-Up: 16th November 2018

Time to become fixated?

RooftopsAccording to the latest statistics from UK Finance, overall remortgaging for both residential and buy-to-let properties have levelled out after a period of strong growth. This reflects the number of fixed rate loans reaching maturity. Buy-to-let home purchases have eased again in September, suggesting lending in this market remains subdued as a result of recent tax, regulatory and legislative changes. Demand for house purchases for both first-time buyers and homemovers has also lessened, as affordability constraints continue to bear down on consumer demand for new loans particularly in London and the South East.

The number of first time buyers was 29,400 in September, 4.5 per cent fewer than in the same month a year earlier. However the £5.0bn of new lending in the month was the same year-on-year. The average first-time buyer is 30 and has a gross household income of £42,000.  Those looking to remortgage totalled 35,600 0.6 per cent fewer than in the same month a year earlier. The £6.4bn of remortgaging in the month was 1.5 per cent down year-on-year.

For landlords, purchase numbers fell by almost 20% at 5,200 however at 12,300 new buy-to-let remortgages completed in the month, the number of people looking to secure a new deal remained relatively flat.

Pay your way

mobile bankingFour in ten (40 per cent) Brits know a ‘shirker’ – the friend who has to take the ‘very important phone call’ when the bill arrives. And a third (33 per cent) have fallen out with a pal because of their stingy ways, with one in eight (14 per cent) holding a grudge for a year or more. 51 per cent think ‘shirking’ is one of the most unappealing traits a friend can have, and mates who are tardy with paying back money are considered more annoying (33 per cent) than those who are always on their mobile on nights out (27 per cent) or constantly taking selfies (8 per cent).

The research from Pingit – the app that allows for fast, easy payments and bill-splitting with just a mobile number – comes just in time for the party season. The findings reveal that so-called shirking, or the avoidance of paying your fair share of the bill, is taking a toll on our wallets, too: Over half (54 per cent) of Brits claim they have lent money to pals, never to see it again, and on average, they’re down £74 over the past 12 months due to their frugal friends.

Whilst Brits are happy to let go an average debt of £24, it only takes an extra £3 for friendships to sour – friends get moody when ‘forgotten’ funds hit £27. As a consequence, nearly four in 10 (38 per cent) have avoided nights out with friends who never pay their share, whilst 13 per cent have ended a friendship altogether – all of this despite 50 per cent having been called out for shirking themselves.

Health in the Workplace

Doctors Office70% of employees say they don’t believe that employee mental wellbeing and musculoskeletal issues are taken seriously enough in the workplace, according to the results of a poll carried out recently by Health Cash Plan provider, Health Shield. 2 in 3 say that their business does not provide access to tailored support for mental health or musculoskeletal conditions and only a third have access to a 24/7 helpline to help look after their mental and physical wellbeing.

36% said that when they suffered from a musculoskeletal problem, it contributed to an increase in anxiety and 90% said they’d feel better knowing there was a clear treatment pathway available to help manage a mental health or musculoskeletal issue.

This comes at a time when the UK government is starting to shape policy around the way in which companies could and should be supporting employees with mental health and musculoskeletal issues. It represents part of a wider government objective to get more disabled people into work. In addition to seeking feedback from employers on what good practice looks like, government recommendations were recently published to ensure that companies report on equality of reward and recognition by April 2020.

Appy days

PhoneAlmost two thirds of Brits now enjoy using apps to save time (62 per cent) and almost a quarter to save money (24 per cent) when completing everyday activities such as shopping, banking and booking travel. However, one in six say they feel they are missing out on the full benefits of apps due to a lack of confidence and knowledge. Most surprisingly more than one in ten Millennials (25 – 34), usually considered the tech-savvy generation, said this was a key barrier to using apps to help with everyday tasks, according to NatWest research.

When it comes to banking, while more than two thirds of 18-44 year olds have used a banking app, the results show that more could be done to raise awareness of the security measures available, such as remote app locking. More than half of those who haven’t accessed banking through an app said their main concern was over the security of their bank details should their phone be stolen. While more than one in ten non-users (11 per cent) said they would use a banking app if they could get help from a professional in setting it up.

The research shows that once people feel comfortable using digital services, they really benefit and see the positives of saving time and money.  But for those who aren’t so familiar with digital services, it can be harder to take that first step.

Weekly Round-Up: 11th November 2018

Softly Softly

London StreetAccording to the latest analysis by the Halifax, the annual rate of house price growth has fallen from 2.5% in September to 1.5% in October, which is the lowest rate of annual growth since March 2013. However, this remains within the Lender’s forecast annual growth range of 0-3% for 2018 as prices continue to be supported by the fact that the supply of new homes and existing properties available for sale remains low. Further house price support comes from an already high and improving employment rate and historically low mortgage rates which are creating higher rates of relative affordability. Halifax see this continuing to be the case over the coming months and they remain supportive of their 0-3% forecast range.

HMRC have highlighted that, in the three months to September, sales were unchanged from the previous three months. The volume of residential transactions has been broadly flat over the past year and is likely to remain so in the coming months. Bank of England industry-wide figures show that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – fell by 1.3% month on month to 65,269 in September.

Finally respondents to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors monthly UK Residential Market Survey continue to cite the mixture of affordability constraints, a lack of stock, economic uncertainty and interest rate rises as holding back activity to a certain degree. The lack of new instructions coming to market continues to impede activity and new instructions were down for the second consecutive month.

Don’t stand for it

Credit CardMore than 15 million people in the UK routinely miss out on refunds, replacement products and getting problems sorted because they don’t know how to complain with confidence, new research reveals. In a study for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is encouraging people to check if they were mis-sold PPI and make a complaint before they miss their chance, 28% of Brits admit they put up with situations including queue jumpers, sub-standard meals and poor service because they lack the confidence and know-how to speak out.

The study shows the art of complaining is at risk of dying out, with younger generations the least likely to be proactive about getting problems resolved or their money back. Less than half (46%) of 16-24 year olds would complain about bad service in a restaurant (versus 71% of over 55s) and 16-24 year olds wait for over a week, on average, to complain about an issue, whereas over 55s take 2.5 days to speak up.

The FCA’s research, launched to highlight the upcoming 29 August 2019 deadline for PPI complaints, also shows younger groups are the most likely to leave it too late to complain, with 25-34 year olds twice as likely as over 55s to delay so much that they miss their chance.

Different generations’ views on what it means to complain may be fueling complaining’s status as a dying art. Younger people are more likely to see it as critical and ‘causing a scene’ than their parents, who associate it more with empowerment – taking a stand or making a protest. Just two in five (44%) under 35s relate complaining to ‘getting a good deal’ versus 68% of over 55s. In contrast, more than a quarter (27%) associate it with ‘awkwardness’, compared to just 11% of over 55s.<\p>

Hitting the right note

Cash MachineDuring an event at the Science Museum to launch the character nomination period, the Governor of the Bank of England announced that the new polymer £50 note will celebrate the UK’s achievements in science.

Mark Carney said that that the new £50 will celebrate the UK’s contribution to science from a wealth of individuals whose work has shaped how people think about the world and who continue to inspire people today. The banknotes are designed to be an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of UK society and highlight the contributions of its greatest citizens. Members of the public have six weeks to nominate a historical character who has contributed to science and influenced UK society. They could have worked in any field of science including astronomy, biology, bio-technology, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, medical research, physics, technology or zoology.

The Governor has also announced the appointment of four experts in the field of science to the Banknote Character Advisory Committee – Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Dr Emily Grossman, Professor Simon Schaffer and Dr Simon Singh. They will join the permanent members on the Committee in creating a shortlist from the range of characters put forward by the public. The Governor will then make a choice from the shortlist and the final decision will be announced in 2019 alongside a concept design for the new note.

Spotlight on General Insurance

Customer care webpage interface wordThe Financial Conduct Authority has announced the launch of a market study into general insurance pricing practices which demonstrates that Insurers must continue to emphasise the core value of Treating Customers Fairly, particularly when it comes to charges faced by customers both new and those demonstrating a level of loyalty. Focusing on two of the most commonly held general insurance products home and motor insurance, the market study is also set to expand the regulator’s emerging work on how insurers use data and information on personal characteristics to price policies across different groups of customers, and particularly those classed as vulnerable.

Alongside the market study announcement, the FCA has also published a discussion paper setting out its approach to considering fairness of pricing in general. Both publications are available on the FCA’s website and have received widespread media coverage, indicating the level of public interest in this topic.

The FCA’s announcement follows concerns identified during its supervisory work, and previous publications such as its July 2018 research note on price discrimination in financial services. The FCA has identified four key issues related to pricing practices on which the market study will focus on consumer outcomes; the fairness of outcomes; the impact on competition; and remedies to address any harm the regulator identifies. The information gathering exercise is due to conclude by the end of January 2019, with an interim report in the summer to be followed by a consultation on any proposed remedies by the end of 2019.