Buy-to-let mortgage demand fell during the first half of 2015 by 18 per cent compared with the previous six months. Although it was the first fall in buy-to-let mortgage figures for three years, the Council of Mortgage Lenders does not think that rents will fall, as demand remains high for rental properties. However, the decline was not as steep as that in the wider mortgage market, which saw a 28 per cent drop in home loans in the first half of 2015 compared with the previous six months. The average loan has an 83 per cent loan-to-value ratio.
Buy-to-let repossessions have increased twice as fast as all other mortgages. Between the first half of 2014 and the first half of 2015 the number of buy-to-let mortgages ending in repossession rose by 100 per cent, compared with 48 per cent across the mortgage market as a whole. HHSE is calling on the government to protect renters from homelessness if their landlord is repossessed.
Meanwhile as banks tighten their lending criteria, borrowers now need a 43 per cent larger deposit than before the credit crunch. The cheapest mortgage deals are now only available to people with large deposits, around 20 per cent or more of the property’s value. A typical homebuyer in England or Wales needs to come up with an average deposit of £37,119. In London, the average deposit needed is £71,616, up 81 per cent from a year ago, and while homes in the North East need the smallest deposit, the amount is an 84 per cent increase on a year ago.
Energy firms hit back at reports that the government is thinking of imposing a windfall tax, by threatening to pass the increase on to consumers. The industry said that a windfall tax would lead to more ‘inflation-busting increases’ as companies struggle to find the money to invest in ageing power stations and networks. Gordon Brown is said to be against the idea of a windfall tax, preferring to force energy companies to pay more for pollution permits issued under the EU’s carbon-trading scheme.
But councils are calling on the government to charge energy companies with an annual levy to fund a national home insulation programme to help lift 500,000 people out of fuel poverty instead. The Local Government Association believes this would be more effective than a one-off payment for the hardest hit. It could also cut £200 off energy bills and help reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent.
Britain will overtake Germany and France to become the most populus country in Europe in 50 years time. The positive birth rate and younger average age in the UK contrasts strongly with most other large European countries. It will result in less problems for pensions, health and welfare systems in the UK said the Eurostat report.