Lunchtime news Tuesday 27 November 2023

The Government announced yesterday that it will reform the ’16-hour rule’, which limits claimants to 16 hours of study a week before losing some or all of their benefits. Secretary of State, Peter Hain said that the government recognised that some vulnerable groups would require housing benefit while undertaking full-time training, and it will consider exemptions from the 16-hour rule for specific groups – such as young people living in supported accommodation.

Young homeless people are also getting a chance to become entrepreneurs in a scheme set up by the Foyer Federation, and the retail group owning Currys and PC World. Thirty young people were given coaching and practical lessons in selling, and then pitched their ideas to the retailer’s senior buyers. All won a year’s worth of mentoring.

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has announced it is preparing to fine and ban a number of mortgage brokers for offering homes loans they knew borrowers couldn’t afford. Seven firms are to be investigated, and a further 65 are to undertake costly reviews. The problems came to light during a regular assessment by the FSA, which found that some brokers are offering first-time buyers mortgages of up to six times their salary, while others turned a blind eye to lying on self-certified mortgage forms.

The Planning Reform Bill, to be published today, is expected to ease restrictions on loft conversions, and allow kitchens and conservatories to be extended, without planning permission. This is expected to reduce the number of planning applications by 90,000 or 25 per cent per year.