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Loans, house prices, pensions and current accounts

20 July 2016

9:28 AM

20 July 2016

9:28 AM

The Government’s energy efficiency loan scheme had an ‘abysmal’ take-up rate because it had not been tested with consumers, according to MPs.

In a highly critical report, the Public Accounts Committee said projections for the scheme were ‘wildly optimistic’.


The so-called Green Deal ended last year after providing just £50 million in 14,000 loans to households to boost energy efficiency. That was substantially less than the £1.1 billion predicted by the Government. Each loan cost taxpayers £17,000.

Housing

House prices increased by 1.1 per cent in May, with the typical home jumping in value by £2,400 over the month.

The Office for National Statistics figures were taken before the Brexit vote, and based on mortgage completions, so are regarded as a lagging indicator for the economy.

Andrew Bridges, managing director of estate agents Stirling Ackroyd, said: ‘Since these figures are for May it’s likely that house prices have already fallen to some extent in parts of the country. British property buyers are weathering a storm of uncertainty, and the hatches were battened down a little in the first week or two after the Brexit vote.’

Growth forecasts

The Times reports that the International Monetary Fund has cut its growth forecasts for the UK and the global economy following the vote to leave the European Union.

The fund called the Brexit vote a risk for the entire world economy and said that there will be a ‘substantial increase in economic, political, and institutional uncertainty’, especially in Europe.

Britain’s decision has added ‘downward pressure to the world economy at a time when growth has been slow’, said Maurice Obstfeld, economic counsellor at the IMF.

Pensions

Pensioners whose incomes have been decimated as their employers have gone bust are missing out on payouts of up to £465 a week because the Government is delaying a law change to suit its PR strategy, the outgoing pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann has claimed.

The Telegraph reports that the rules being ‘needlessly delayed’ will eventually boost the compensation owed to thousands of middle and high-earning workers with more than 20 years service at a collapsed company which is unable to pay their pension.

Once in place they will make savers – who have lost as much as half their pension – up to £24,248 a year better off for life, according to calculations done by Royal London, a pension firm.

Bank accounts

Despite financial inducements and efforts by financial regulators to get more people to switch bank accounts, fewer people are doing so.

In the last 12 months, 1.05 million people moved their current accounts, according to Bacs, which operates the service. That represents a drop of 4.7 per cent on the previous 12 month period.

‘With 65 million current account holders in the UK, movement is minimal,’ said Hannah Maundrell, editor of money.co.uk. ‘Even with big cash incentives on the table, people just aren’t switching.’

Childcare costs

‘The cost of childcare has gone up by 50 per cent since 2008,’ Julia Unwin, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, told the Today programme this morning.

She argues that government support for childcare should be extended, particularly for those on the lowest incomes. ‘It’s essential for our economy that we have good, safe, accessible childcare.’

Premium bonds

Savers piled a huge £14 billion into Premium Bonds in the 12 months to March to benefit from an increase in the maximum you can hold, according to the Daily Mail.

In June last year, the limit was increased to £50,000. But a year later, the chance of winning any prize was cut – falling from 1 in 26,000 to 1 in 30,000 from last month.

These bonds are the most popular National Savings & Investments product. The total held in them is £61.8 billion, its latest accounts show.

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