Lunchtime news Friday 26 September 2023

The fall in house prices is accelerating in England and Wales according to the Land Registry. Prices fell 1.9 per cent in August, taking the annual rate of price falls to 4.6 per cent. Prices in London fell by 3.2 per cent in August – the first monthly drop since 2000.

Rents have also fallen. Savills, the estate agents, says average rents are 1.8 per cent lower than they were three months ago. The worst effected area is south west London where prices are down 16.5 per cent on last year, and towards the east of the city where prices have declined 4.6 per cent. Many homeowners who have been unable or unwilling to sell their homes have become landlords recently.

Advisers for the government’s eco-towns have called for ministers to toughen up environmental standards for the developments by monitoring residents’ travel habits, home insulation and wasted food to ensure they are living a ‘green lifestyle’. Supporters of the move want the towns to have a carbon footprint three times smaller than the British average. Opponents to the eco-towns have said that the proposals would create a ‘Big Brother’ environment.

Meanwhile Rushcliffe Borough Council has supported a motion demanding that the government abandon its eco-town proposals in Rushcliffe saying that its eco-town would fail the sustainability test. The council also has received confirmation from the housing and transport ministers that the existing infrastructure and facilities are completely inadequate to support a town, but there would be no extra funding available for major infrastructure or transport improvement.

Housing minister Caroline Flint has published a report setting out for changes to planning laws that would end the concentration of student populations in university towns. The report will suggest ways of reducing the clustering of student houses in one area. The government is proposing to make planning laws stricter, allowing councils to define houses of multiple occupation as ‘any dwelling of three or more people from two or more households’.

Hopes for an interest rate cut were boosted when business leaders and trade unions appealed for the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, who meet next week, to make a cut. They argue that inflation is reaching its peak in the next two or three months, and in order to counter the ‘severe threat of recession’, the committee should consider a rate cut to 4.75 per cent, down from five per cent currently. However, Kate Barker one of the committee members warned that while inflation expectations and perceptions have clearly moved higher, the credit crunch had proved to be more serious than initially expected and the economic outlook for the country had recently worsened.