Wednesday’s Lunchtime News April 2 2015

Homeowners are not willing to make changes to live in ‘zero carbon’ new eco-friendly homes, according to a report. People are too worried that their cost of living would be higher and the maintenance would be more demanding; as well as having to cut back on certain appliances. The National Housebuilding Council Foundation (NHBC) said that these results were unsurprising due to the lack of involvement the public have had regarding the building changes. They concluded that until people have more of an understanding, they are going to be unwilling to buy these new houses.

A committee of MPs from the department for community and local government (CLG) has also joined in the green debate, saying that the government must do more to improve the energy efficiency in existing homes. The committee said that the current housing policy ‘risk neglecting the environmental impact’ of over 25 million existing homes, a quarter of which were built at least 90 years ago and which emit nearly twice as much carbon as new homes. Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, agreed that making existing houses more energy efficient was required and ‘imaginative solutions’ were needed, including a national roll out of ‘smart meters’ to help people monitor their energy use, stamp duty rebates for people who make their homes more efficient, and using the energy performance certificate contained in the home information packs for homeowners seeking planning permission.

Annual house price growth in England and Wales has continued to fall although prices remained unchanged in February, according to the Land Registry. In February the average house price was £185,616, the same as the previous month. Yet, this cut the annual price change to 5.3 per cent, the sixth fall in a row, confirming a weaker market. London has also shown its first monthly dip for a while with prices down by 0.4 per cent.

First Direct has temporarily withdrawn its mortgages to individuals who are not already their customers. With so many other providers having withdrawn their mortgages or raised their interest rates, including NatWest, Scottish Widows, and Nationwide, this has left some smaller banks and building societies unable to cope with the level of demand for their mortgages. First Direct said that it has had five times its usual level of applications. A spokesperson for the bank said that: ‘We want to be back in the market as soon as possible.’

And finally, a woman who took out a loan for ‘home improvements’ and then used the money to fund an attempted contract killing on her husband, is facing trial. The woman, who denies soliciting murder, ‘flattered’ her neighbour into helping her; although the neighbour said he had no intention of going through with the plan and instead contacted the police.