Lunchtime news Monday 12 November 2023

The debt collection industry has nearly tripled since 2003, and looks set for further expansion as increases in the cost of borrowing forced companies and individuals into greater financial difficulties. The amount of debt sold on to professional collection agencies is expected to reach £22.7 billion by the end of this year, and increase to £24.1 billion next year. Debt in the UK swelled to £1,379 billion in September, larger than national gross domestic product which stands at £1,300 billion.

While one market grows, another falters. The monthly survey by the Royal Chartered Institution of Surveyors (RICS) reports that house prices are falling at their fastest pace for more than two years. The survey showed that the majority of surveyors reported a drop in prices in September. They also measured a decline in new instructions to sell for the fifth month in a row.

David Cameron is expected today to announce that a Conservative government would ‘democratise’ council tax by scrapping central government capping and introducing referendums to approve ‘excessive’ increases. If people voted against increases they would get a rebate at the end of the financial year.

Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper is to announce a £70 million extra package of support for rough sleepers. The cash will fund 100 new and upgraded hostels providing accommodation and training across the country. The Conservatives meanwhile claim that the number of rough sleepers in England has been grossly underestimated by official figures, and that there are almost 1,300 at any time sleeping rough, nearly three times the fewer than 500 official estimate.