Lunchtime news, 15 October

The credit squeeze and the rise in mortgage rates are having an impact on the housing market, with the growth in house prices likely to slow for the rest of the year, according to the Financial Times. The latest index showed prices in England and Wales grew 0.3 per cent in September compared with 0.4 per cent in August and 0.6 per cent in March. The annual growth rate fell to 8.8 per cent from 9.4 per cent in August, taking the cost of the average home to £225,826.

New housing development will be speeded up after the Chancellor scrapped land tax last week, and bowed to pressure to drop a proposal for a planning gain supplement, industry sources said.

The Chancellor may have ignored first-time buyers, but buy-to-let investors and second home owners were jubilant about what could amount to a £4 billion boost. There are an estimated 650,000 people with buy-to-lets and second homes, according to figures from Revenue & Customs and estate agency Savills. They will save an average of more than £6,000 when they sell under changes to the capital-gains tax regime due to be introduced in April.

But the residents of Middlesbrough will be holding their heads in shame today, after reports that the city is the worst place to live in the country. Middlesbrough achieved its unwanted eminence through high crime, severe drug and health problems, and poor education results. According to researchers for the Channel 4 show Location, Location, Location, which compiles an annual list of the best and worst places to live, Middlesbrough has plenty of other problems too. The city replaces last year’s worst place, Hackney, in East London, which has improved to 12th this year. In second place this year is another northern city, Hull, followed by Newham in East London.