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March 2017

Brexit: Government suffers second defeat in Lords

The government has suffered a second Brexit defeat in the House of Lords as peers backed, by 366 votes to 268, calls for a “meaningful” parliamentary vote on the final terms of withdrawal.

Backing the move, former deputy PM Lord Heseltine said Parliament must be the “custodian of national sovereignty”.

Ministers said it was disappointing and they would seek to overturn the move when the bill returns to the Commons.

The previous defeat was on the issue of guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens.

After a three-hour debate on Tuesday, for the second time in a week peers amended the legislation that will authorise Theresa May to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to leave and pave the way for official Brexit talks to begin.

The turnout in the Lords for the vote was the largest since 1831, according to Parliament’s website.

Feb 2017

Change to the penalties of using a mobile phone behind the wheel

From tomorrow, Wednesday 01 March 2017,  ALL motorists, in England, Scotland and Wales found using a handheld mobile phone will get six points on their licence and face a £200 fine.

Motorists who are caught for the first time using their phone illegally, will no longer be able to choose to take a remedial course instead of receiving points on their licence. Drivers caught breaking the law for a second time are potentially facing a £1,000 fine and a six-month driving ban.

Newly qualified motorists face revocation of their driving licence the first time they are caught using a mobile phone behind the wheel.

Feb 2017

Home repossessions fall to 35-year low

The number of homes repossessed by lenders dropped by nearly 25% in 2016 to hit a 35-year low.

Only 7,700 properties were taken over in the UK because homeowners had fallen significantly behind with their mortgage repayments.

That’s the lowest level since 1982 and down from 10,200 in 2015.

There was also a fall in the number of people who were late with several mortgage payments, with 94,100 households in arrears, 7,600 fewer than a year earlier, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Why is this happening?

The combination of record low interest rates and high levels of employment has led to a downward trend in the number of people falling behind with their mortgage.

Lenders are also willing to work with borrowers who are having problems meeting their repayments, rather than moving to repossess their property.

But despite the dramatic drop, the CML did point out that some repossessions may have been delayed last year due to a court case that caused lenders to review their processes.

Who does it affect?

The fall in the number of people losing their home due to financial difficulties is good news not just for the individuals concerned but also for the wider homeowner market.

House prices often fall during periods in which many people are unable to pay their home loan, as significant numbers of properties come on to the market, often at discount prices.

It is also good news for tenants, with only 2,400 buy-to-let properties repossessed during 2016.

Home ownership amongst 25-year-olds has plummeted by more than half in the last 20 years according to new analysis for the Local Government Association (LGA). To read the full article from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA)

Jan 2017

UK house price average surges by £4,000 in December

The average UK house price surged by nearly £4,000 in December in the fastest acceleration in values since the Brexit vote, according to Halifax.

Prices rose by 1.7% in December alone, reaching a new all-time high of £222,484 and pushing the ratio of house prices to earnings to 5.81, just shy of its all-time high of 5.83 in July 2007 before the financial crisis struck.

The latest surge in prices follow a slew of end-of-year predictions forecasting a marked slowdown in the market in 2017.

Halifax said prices in the final quarter of the year were 2.5% higher than in the previous quarter, while the annualised rate of increase rose to 6.5% in December from 6% in November.

Jan 2017

Revealed: The towns in Britain where house prices grew almost a third in 10 years

HOUSE price growth in Britain’s new towns has outperformed the national average over the past decade, a report has found.

New towns generally have seen house prices increase by nearly a third (32 per cent) over the past 10 years, increasing by just over £55,500, from £173,337 in 2006 to £228,902 in 2016.

House prices across Britain generally have increased by just over a quarter (26 per cent) over the past 10 years, from £200,059 to £251,679 – an increase of around £51,600.

Halifax said that since 1986, property prices in Milton Keynes have surged by 601 per cent to reach £309,415 on average, making it Britain’s top-performing new town over the past three decades.

Jan 2017

House prices for first-time buyers top £200,000

House prices for properties bought by first-time buyers jumped above £200,000 last year, while those in London were more than £400,000, reports Halifax.

As a result, deposit sizes have more than doubled over the last decade, says Sky News: “In 2006, the average first-time buyer deposit across the UK was £15,168, but now it is £32,321. In London, a first-time buyer’s deposit is over £100,000 on average, assuming they can also cover moving costs and stamp duty.”

Despite this, the number of first-time buyers completing a house purchase was at its highest level since the financial crisis, with 335,750 house purchases, higher than any year since the 359,900 transactions in 2007.