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Interest rates, executive pay, first-time buyers and shopping habits

16 September 2016

10:44 AM

16 September 2016

10:44 AM

Interest rates are on track to be cut for a second time before Christmas despite the economy’s surprising resilience since the EU referendum, the Bank of England has indicated.

The Bank’s message that stronger growth may not dissuade rate-setters from a second post-Brexit vote cut was made in the minutes to this month’s meeting, when they decided to leave policy unchanged, The Times reports.

Last month the Bank announced its biggest package of measures since the launch of quantitative easing at the height of the recession seven years ago. Rates were cut by a quarter-point to 0.25 per cent, a £100 billion cheap funding scheme was extended to lenders, a £10 billion corporate bond-buying programme was launched and the QE programme was increased by £60 billion to £435 billion.

Executive pay

MPs have launched an inquiry into corporate governance, focusing on executive pay, worker representation in the boardroom and the lack of women in senior positions.

The Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee has recently held inquiries into BHS and Sports Direct. Committee chair Iain Wright said it needed to look ‘at the laws that govern business and how they are enforced’. The Prime Minister has also pledged to overhaul the way businesses are run.

Meanwhile, The Guardian reports that eight years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers sparked a global financial crisis, the spread of Britain’s bonus culture from the bankers of the City to the hi-tech startups of London’s Shoreditch has seen pay top-ups leap to a new record level.

While regular pay growth has remained modest for most UK workers, generous bonuses at firms outside the financial sector have pushed bonuses above their previous pre-financial crisis peak.

Total bonus payouts in the year to the end of March rose 4.4 per cent to £44.3 billion, according to Office for National Statistics figures – with the biggest cash payments still going to the financial services sector.

First-time buyers


First-time buyers face an increasingly desperate future as the average cost of a first home rises, rents tip the £1,000 a month mark and lenders withdraw small deposit mortgages, Thisismoney reports.

Research from AmTrust and Moneyfacts shows the average cost of a first-time buyer home hit £161,912 in June – the highest level seen in 2016.

At the same time the number of high loan-to-value mortgage products has fallen for two consecutive months since the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Shopping

Shoppers in Newcastle and Birmingham spent more on fashion over the last 12 months than those in any of the UK’s other top 10 cities, averaging £304 and £313 per head respectively, according to new research from Savills and intu. By contrast, shoppers in Bristol spent the least at just £184 per head.

The Spotlight: Retail Revolutions report, which analysed shopping habits by both location and age, found that the highest fashion spend came from Generation X (35 to 44-year-olds) in Newcastle, which averaged £581 over the last 12 months. This was followed by Liverpool’s Baby Boomers who spent £507 per head on fashion over the same period.

Sean Gillies, head of UK retail at Savills, said: ‘Disposable income is the key to determining fashion spend. While younger consumers shopped most frequently across all cities, spending is perhaps more constrained in those cities where living costs are highest. For example, Generation Y shoppers (25 to 34-year-olds) in London spent £357 compared to their generational counterparts in Glasgow and Edinburgh, who spent £436 and £413 respectively.’

Energy

ScottishPower customers will soon be able to buy gas and electricity in bundles of days rather than signing up to standard or fixed-price deals.

The system is being based on the way people fill up their car with petrol or buy data bundles with a mobile phone. The company says it is an attempt to simplify energy bills.

ScottishPower chief executive Keith Anderson said: ‘We’re saying to people buy it by the day, not by kilowatts or a fancy tariff you don’t understand.’ Customers will use an app that has a gauge measuring consumption.

Property

Six out of ten homeowners are set to snub a move up the housing ladder in favour of making improvements to their home. A survey of more than 2,500 UK homeowners by comparethemarket.com found that, at a time of economic uncertainty following the Brexit vote and when house prices are still hitting record highs, a clear majority of homeowners plan to remain in their current properties and undertake improvements, indicating a possible slowdown in housing demand in the coming months.

The research shows that a key factor in the lack of movement is high house prices, with almost a third citing recent housing inflation as the cause of their decision not to move. Many also see stamp duty as a major hurdle: one in ten view the high cost of stamp duty as preventing them from moving home and nearly a third admitted they would be more likely to move house if there was a significant cut in stamp duty.

Finally…

One in five Brits admit they hide from their partners and children in the garden shed, according to a survey carried out by garden shed experts Shedstore.co.uk. We also store a lot of valuables in our sheds, with an estimated £10 billion worth of possessions hoarded in Britain’s sheds.

A poll of 2,242 homeowners with sheds revealed that the common garden shed is no longer simply a place to store garden equipment or a rusty bike.  Four in ten respondents said they head to the shed as a sanctuary away from the stresses of work and family life.

According to the survey, the shed has become much more of an extension of the home, with one in seven saying they spend at least 10 hours a week in their sheds. That’s more than 500 hours a year living at the bottom of the garden. Almost a third of shed owners polled said they spend at least four hours a week in their sheds.

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