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The latest research from Lloyds Bank reveals that Winchester, England’s ancient capital and home to King Arthur’s legendary Round Table recorded the biggest price rise of any UK city over the past decade with a gain of 93% from £281,224 in 2008 to £541,891 in 2018, compared to the UK cities average of 35%. Chichester is second with a rise of 76% followed by Greater London (69%), Cambridge (66%), St Albans (64%) and Oxford (59%). Nine of the 10 top performers since 2008 are in southern England with the exceptions being Lichfield in the West Midlands and Cardiff in Wales (both 54%).

City house prices in the UK have outpaced earnings growth by 11%, causing home affordability to reach on average, its lowest level since 2007, when the ratio of house prices to earnings stood at 7.5. The average house price within UK cities has risen from £180,548 in 2013 to its highest ever level of £248,233 in 2018. In comparison, average city annual earnings over the same period have risen by just 11% to £34,366.Oxford, home to the world’s highest ranked university has an average house price of £460,184, 12 times (12.6) average annual earnings in the city (£36,430) making Oxford the UK’s least affordable city. There are seven cities with average house prices above 10 times the average annual earnings. In addition to Oxford, these are Chichester (11.5), Winchester (11.3), Truro (11.1), Greater London, Bath and Cambridge (all 10.3). The London average figure disguises considerable variations across the capital with central boroughs significantly less affordable than the Greater London average. The only cities outside southern England and the East are Leicester (8.6), York (8.0) and Worcester (7.7).Stirling in Scotland along with Londonderry, Northern Ireland are the UK’s most affordable cities, with an average house price to earnings ratio of 4.4. Stirling is in the top spot for the sixth consecutive year. Along with Londonderry, two other cities in Northern Ireland, Newry (4.5) and Belfast (5.0), are placed 3rd and 6th respectively within the 10 most affordable cities. Bradford (4.6) is named as the most affordable city in England and Swansea, home to nearly 25,000 students, is the most affordable city in Wales (5.5).

Ask percy
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has launched a beta version of an online calculator, which works out consumers’ likely financial entitlements if they are unable to work due to illness or injury. ‘Percy The Protection Calculator’, which is still in development, is a calculator aimed at consumers that is designed to give quick access to an accurate estimation of likely monthly income if you’re injured or fall ill. This is done by tapping into the Government’s benefit data and combining it with information provided by the Calculator’s user.

The Calculator is aimed at raising consumer awareness and this will be its sole purpose. The data will not be stored and will not be used for any other purpose – users won’t even be required to share their name, first line of address or email address.

Each year, one million workers find themselves unable to work due to prolonged sickness or injury, so it’s essential that people are aware of what their income might be under these circumstances, particularly as it is highly likely to be significantly less than their usual take-home pay. The Calculator can be found on the ABI’s website at The Calculator is designed to be simple enough for anyone to use independently. Peoples’ personal circumstances will change the amount they’re entitled to under Universal Credit. Factors that may affect entitlements include marital status, income, level of savings and whether or not the user has children.

No Change
The Bank of England (BoE) has kept interest rates unchanged this month at their current rate of 0.75%. The role of the BoE is to set interest rates to influence the amount of spending in the economy in order to ensure inflation (the pace of price rises) returns to their 2% target sustainably, and to support growth and jobs. Over the past few years, the economy has needed interest rates to stay very low as we recovered from the global financial crisis.

It’s been evident over the past few years that the UK economy started to grow more quickly, and with inflation above the 2% target, it needed a little less support. So the BoE raised the official interest rate from 0.25% to 0.5% in November 2017 and then from 0.5% to 0.75% in August 2018.  Since then, uncertainties over Brexit have increased, UK economic growth has slowed, and inflation has fallen back close to their 2% target.

In its latest report, the BoE has indicated that, if the economy performs as they expect, upward pressure on prices could build over the next few years and the BoE we will need to raise interest rates a bit more to keep inflation low. They expect any rises in interest rates to happen at a gradual pace and to a limited extent, but are likely to remain substantially lower than before the financial crisis.

Their current view is based on the assumption that there will be a smooth Brexit where households and businesses have time to adjust to the new relationship between the UK and the EU. Whatever form Brexit takes, the BoE have made a commitment to set interest rates to keep inflation low and support jobs and growth.

World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day 2019 highlighted the need for urgent action to increase early-stage cancer detection, screening, and diagnosis to significantly improve cancer patients’ chances of survival. It took place on the 4th February under the theme of ‘I Am and I Will’, and was led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).  It aimed to inspire and encourage action from individuals, the health community, and governments to improve public awareness and access to early detection, screening, and diagnosis.

According to the UICC, in 2018, there were more than 18 million new cases of cancer diagnosed of which nearly 5 million cases of breast, cervical, colorectal, and oral cancers could have been detected sooner and treated more effectively. Early detection, screening, and diagnosis have been proven to significantly improve patient survival rates and quality of life as well as significantly reduce the cost and complexity of cancer treatment. However, the UICC highlights that barriers to achieving higher rates of early cancer detection need to be addressed now at the individual, health system, and governmental level to significantly reduce the personal and financial burden of cancer worldwide.

Universally, the majority of cancers are amenable to early detection. When a cancer is detected at an early stage – and when coupled with appropriate treatment – the chance of survival beyond five years is dramatically higher than when detected at a later stage when the tumour has spread and the disease is more advanced.  In the US, the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with cervical cancer at an advanced stage is just 15%, compared to 93% if diagnosed when the cancer has not spread. This pattern holds even in lower income settings. In India, a study among rural women with cervical cancer found the five-year survival rate to be 9% when diagnosed at Stage IV, which soars to 78% when diagnosed at Stage.

However, childhood cancers are generally some of the most highly treatable forms of cancers – 80% of childhood cancers are curable if prompt diagnosis and treatment is given.

This World Cancer Day, as part of its flagship Treatment for All initiative, UICC and its 1,100+ member organisations across more than 170 countries are calling on governments to translate their commitments to reduce the burden of cancer into demonstrable national action. Strong early detection and timely diagnosis measures must be a part of any country’s National Cancer Control Plan, alongside concrete measures to improve cancer prevention, treatment, and care. By implementing resource-appropriate strategies on prevention, early detection, and treatment, up to 3.7 million lives can be saved every year.