Lunchtime news Tuesday 23 October 2023

HHSE has joined forces with the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) and Citizens Advice to urge the government to bring sale-and-rent-back schemes under the control of the financial watchdog – the Financial Services Authority. The FSA has previously argued that the schemes were property transactions, and as such did not fall under its remit. In a letter to the Economic Secretary, Kitty Usher, the three organisations expressed concern over the actions of some sale-and-rent-back companies, and raised fears that people were being misled into putting their homes at risk. They also argued that the office of Fair Trading should investigate claims made in the companies’ advertisements.

Britain’s economic growth during the past 15 years was built on shaky foundations, according to a report by the Policy Exchange, a centre-right think-tank. The lead author of the report said that while other European countries are embarking on a process of economic modernisation, Britain is going in the opposite direction. And rampant house price inflation has encouraged people to wipe out their savings and invest where they can in property. The report doesn’t foresee a price crash in house prices, but it does think that ‘house price inflation is unlikely to continue much longer at recent rates’.

Newport, Wales, and Plymouth have been declared the greenest cities in Britain after their ecological footprints were analysed by the WWF (formerly the World Wide Fund for Nature). However green is relative – both cities require on average 5.01 hectares of the Earth’s surface to supply their needs each year, and even if these best performing British cities’ results were replicated worldwide, it would require the resources of 2.78 planets to sustain the world at the best British rate.

And finally, carbon emissions could be cut drastically if lime is used instead of cement in house production. Cement production accounts for 5 per cent of CO2 emissions worldwide, and the figure is growing. Lime on the other hand has been used in building for tens of thousands of years, but its use has declined since Portland cement was patented in the early 1800s. Lime is able to accommodate structural movements without cracking, and when a building reaches the end of its life, the mortar is soft enough to take the masonry apart and be re-used.