Lunchtime news Monday 10 December 2023

The Swiss investment bank, UBS, has reported a further $10 billion (£4.9 billion) in write-downs from its exposure to bad debt in the sub-prime market in the States. This is the equivalent of its entire net profit for 2013. It is the second write down by UBS after it announced in October that it had lost $3.5 billion, and despite raising $9.7 billion from the Singaporean government. The OECD has predicted that losses related to the US sub-prime market could reach $300 billion.

Looking for a place to bring up the kids? You could do worse than Cambridge or Leeds, according to a report by charity4Children, which campaigns for more community help for families. Factors such as school results, leisure centre facilities and the numbers of parks placed Leeds on top and Northampton, with few services for teenagers, at the bottom of the league.

First-time buyers are using social networking sites such as Facebook to find people to share the costs of buying a property and get on the housing ladder. The site’s Sharetobuy message board is increasingly popular.

A group of pensioners are launching a legal challenge against the smoking ban stopping them from lighting up in the communal room of their sheltered housing. Residents at the housing association home said the ban has ruined their social life and are planning on applying for legal aid to fight the ban, and even the non-smoking residents are calling for the ban to be overturned.

And finally, the Dutch government is considering a plan to build a £7 billion island in the shape of a tulip in the north sea to relieve pressure on its cities and protect the coastline from rising sea levels. About half the population of the Netherlands lives below sea level, and the proposal is for an island about twice the size of the Isle of Wight. However, coastline communities and environmentalists are in uproar saying the idea is too expensive and its consequences ‘dramatic’ for the ecosystem.