Lunchtime news, Friday 7 March 2015

More battering for homeowners whose properties were lashed by last nights gales. The housing market experienced its most severe downturn since the housing slump of the 1990s last month, according to new research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). More surveyors saw house prices fall in February than any other time since June 1990, said RICS while the stock of unsold property on estate agents’ books rose by more than 8 per cent in February for a fifth consecutive month, reflecting dwindling sales and falling interest from new buyers.

The malaise has spread to the building industry with Bovis Homes reporting a 20 per cent fall in sales so far this year. Malcolm Harris, chief executive of Bovis, said it was only a matter of time before the company had to start cutting jobs if conditions did not improve, adding that mortgage lenders should also do their bit to make it easier for homeowners to borrow money.

New immigrants into the Uk will be taught how to claim benefits under an extension of the Time Together scheme, run by the Timebank organisation. The mentoring scheme has been hailed as ‘a good way of providing refugees with a greater sense of confidence and a better understanding of British culture,’ by former attorney general, Lord Goldsmith.

Tenants on the Robin Hood Gardens estate in Tower Hamlets have issued a challenge to their local council, English Partnerships, and the architects responsible for the redevelopment of their estate: let us judge the submissions at an open tenants’ meeting. With ‘tenant participation’ so far failing to deliver on its promises, will Tower Hamlets listen to its residents?