Lunchtime news Friday 5 September 2023

Just a day after the government backtracked over its pledge to give households a cash handout to help with fuel bills, a council has come up with a plan to bulk-buy fuel on the futures market. Kent County Council has written to public sector bodies – including other councils, hospitals and emergency services – asking if they would be willing to club together to coordinate fuel purchases to save on costs. Local authorities currently spend more than £2 billion a year on fuel.

Arrears and repossessions among prime mortgage borrowers jumped in the second quarter of the year. The number of borrowers in serious arrears – more than 90 days – rose to 0.90 per cent of all mortgage loans, up from 0.60 per cent a year earlier. The number of homes being repossessed has more than doubled to 0.082 per cent of all home loans. The worst performances came from the Bank of Scotland and Northern Rock. Moody’s, who reported the findings, said that they expect arrears to keep rising for some time as borrowers come off cheaper, fixed rate deals.

An interim report from the Commission on English Prisons has called for prisons to be run by local authorities as an alternative to the government’s plans to build new ‘titan’ prisons. The paper said the Ministry of Justice should retain reponsibility for overall policy issues and high security prisons, but all others should be locally controlled.

Meanwhile, just 12 months after the Legal Services Commission introduced new contracts changing the funding for not-for-profit law centres that provide specialist housing advice, many are closing with financial problems. The problems have been exacerbated by the creation of Community Legal Advice Centres, many of which have been placed in the same areas as law centres, with both having to bid to provide services. Three law centres have closed, three are winding up and a further dozen have serious financial problems.

Grown-up children are costing their parents an average of £21,500 a year a YouGov survey has found. Ninety-four per cent of those questioned said they had contributed financially to help their children and in many cases grandchildren. Even half of parents over 70 years old, who accounted for only 10 per cent of those questioned, said they were still helping their children. The majority of the money went towards help in buying a house.