Up Across The Country
The Office for National Statistics has released the latest data on its UK House Price Index (HPI) tracing house price inflation, the rate at which the prices of residential properties purchased in the UK rise and fall. The UK HPI, introduced in June 2016, includes all residential properties purchased for market value in the UK. According to the data, average house prices in the UK have increased by 3.2% in the year to August 2018 (down from 3.4% in July 2018), remaining broadly stable at a national level since April 2018.
Over the past two years, records indicate that there has been a slowdown in UK house price growth, driven mainly by a slowdown in the south and east of England. The lowest annual growth was in London, where prices decreased by 0.2% over the year, down from being unchanged (0.0%) in the year to July 2018. The average UK house price was £233,000 in August 2018. This is £7,000 higher than in August 2017 and £1,000 higher than last month. On a non-seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices in the UK increased by 0.2% between July 2018 and August 2018, compared with an increase of 0.5% in average prices during the same period a year earlier (July 2017 and August 2017). On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices in the UK increased by 0.3% between July 2018 and August 2018.
House prices in England increased by 2.9% in the year to August 2018, down from 3.3% in the year to July 2018, with the average price in England now £250,000. House prices in Wales increased by 6.2% over the last 12 months to reach £162,000. In Scotland, the average price increased by 4.1% over the year to stand at £153,000. The average price in Northern Ireland currently stands at £133,000, an increase of 4.4% over the year to Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2018.
Happy To Be Scottish
Happiness levels in Scotland have risen for a third consecutive year, according to the latest Bank of Scotland Happiness Index. The annual nationwide survey asks Scots how happy or unhappy they are in their local communities, to create an official cheeriness barometer ranging between -100 (very unhappy) to +100 (very happy). Overall, Scots are slightly chirpier than last year as the Index recorded a score of 44.9 (an increase of 1.2 points compared to 2017) and 5.9 points happier than they were three years ago.
Anyone looking for their next home might want to consider Central Scotland, with its leafy suburbs and The Helix – home of The Kelpies – as it’s been crowned the happiest place to live. The Highlands & Islands is the second happiest – perhaps partly because of its stark beauty and outdoors community – followed by the Lothians. Clouds may be gathering over West of Scotland though, as it fell to the bottom of the table this year. Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean becoming grumpier as the Index reveals that over 65s remain the happiest age group. They’ve consistently been table-toppers for the past three years. But at the other end of the age scale, 18 to 24 year olds’ happiness levels have grown by the highest number of points in the last year, and over the last three years. Those aged 35 to 44 are at the bottom of the table for the second consecutive year, and 24 points below the over 65s.
Two’s company when it comes to a happy home as for the third year in a row those households with two residents say they’re the happiest. Families of four have slumped four places to the bottom of the table, replacing those living alone, who move up just one position to fifth place. They say money can’t buy happiness but according to the latest Index, the more Scots earn, the happier they are. This year, Scots with a personal income of more than £60,000 are happiest, but last year, the magic number was between £40,000 and £59,999 – it’s moved to second place.
Lost in pension
The scale of the UK’s lost Pensions Mountain is exposed last week by research carried out on behalf of the ABI. In the largest study yet on the subject, the Pensions Policy Institute (PPI) surveyed firms representing about 50% of the private defined contribution pensions market. From this PPI found 800,000 lost pensions worth an estimated £9.7 billion. It estimates that, if scaled up to the whole market, there are collectively around 1.6 million pots worth £19.4 billion unclaimed – the equivalent of nearly £13,000 per pot. This figure is likely to be even higher as the research did not look into lost pensions held in the public sector, or with trust-based schemes typically run by employers.
Insurance providers make considerable efforts and spend millions every year trying to reunite people with lost or forgotten pensions. In 2017 more than 375,000 attempts were made to contact customers, leading to £1 billion in assets being reunited with them. However, firms are unable to keep pace with a mobile workforce that moves jobs and homes more often than ever before, so a digital solution through the Pensions Dashboard is now more important than ever. This would enable anyone to see all their pension savings, including the State Pension, together in a single online place.
Nearly two-thirds of UK savers have more than one pension, and changing work patterns means that the number of people with multiple pensions will increase. People typically lose track of their pensions when changing jobs or moving home. The average person will have around 11 different jobs over their lifetime, and move home 8 times. The Government predict that there could be as many as 50 million dormant and lost pensions by 2050.
Following HM Treasury’s announcement last week, the Bank of England confirmed that it plans to issue a new £50 note. This will be the final note in the latest series, all of which will be printed on polymer. The Bank will announce a character selection process for the new £50 note in due course, which will seek nominations from the public for potential characters to appear on the new note. Having successfully moved to polymer with the £5 and £10 note, the Turner £20 note will be issued on polymer in 2020 and the new £50 note will follow this.
The Bank of England is very excited to be starting the process of introducing a new £50 note highlighting the need to provide the public with high quality notes that they can use with confidence. Moving the £50 note onto polymer is an important next step to ensure that the Bank can continue to improve the notes in circulation, they are cleaner, safer and stronger and harder to counterfeit. And, because they last around 2.5 times longer than paper notes, they are also more environmentally friendly.