Lunchtime news Thursday 15 November 2023

A report into child poverty in Britain has revealed that a quarter of the country’s poorest households cannot afford to put a daily hot meal on the table for every family member. Children as young as five were so aware of their parents’ financial difficulties that they gave back money they had received from other family members to help support their household and wouldn’t ask for christmas presents for fear of adding to their parents’ burden.

The proportion of homeowners who pay more than half their salary on their mortgage has doubled in two years according to a Bank of England report. About 4.8 per cent of mortgage holders pay more than 50 per cent of their pre-tax income on mortgages, up from 2.4 in 2005, and more than one in three mortgage holders commit more than 20 per cent of their gross income to repayments.

Mervyn King, Bank of England governor has signalled that two interest rate cuts pencilled in for early next year will not be enough to stop 2015 being the toughest year in a decade. Delivering the quarterly inflation report, Mr King said that it would probably be 2016 before growth picks up and inflation is bought under control. This is bad news for the property market: ‘With house price inflation easing and commercial property prices falling, residential and commercial property investment are likely to moderate, possibly quite sharply…’

John Swinney, finance secretary of the Scottish National Party announced his first budget yesterday, and immediately came under fire from campaigners to the south including the Taxpayers’ Alliance. Announcing a deal to freeze council tax rates for the next three years, Mr Swinney said Scottish councils will receive £34.7 billion from central government or ‘adequate funding’ to freeze tax rates. A Taxpayers’ Alliance spokesperson said that this ‘was yet another example of how Scotland gets away with having fantastic public services that are funded from the pocket of English taxpayers’. Also announced was a £1.6 billion investment in housing and regeneration and a £1.47 billion deal over three years for new social housing.

And finally Pinewood Shepperton, owner of the film studios, have sought planning permission for a significant extension to its UK site. The proposal includes a collection of TV and film locations and a residential development of between 2,000 and 2,250 homes. Pinewood hopes that the project will create a sustainable community that would contribute to reducing the housing shortage in the South East.