Money news: Plans to make house buying simpler are gutted in 'shambles'
Sunday 23 July 2006
The introduction of home sellers' packs in 2007 was left in disarray last week after the Government shelved a key part of the new scheme.
The Home Information Pack (HIP) - a document containing survey information, an environmental report and details of local searches and deeds - has long been touted as a way of speeding up housing chains. The idea is that by shifting the responsibility for compiling this information away from the buyer, at a cost to the vendor of £600 to £1,000, problems won't emerge at a late stage that hamper the sale.
In particular,the reform has been advocated as a way of helping struggling first-timer buyers, who are the lifeblood of the housing market.
But last week, after months of pressure from critics including lenders and estate agents, who argued that the scheme would prove a costly disincentive to selling, the Housing minister, Yvette Cooper, announced that the packs would no longer require a compulsory Home Condition Report (HCR).
This report, a de facto survey, would have included physical details of the property although leaving out important information such as the state of the home's wiring and any subsidence risk.
The U-turn leaves the packs containing nothing more than the deeds, a new energy certificate on how "green" the property is, and local authority searches.
In a statement to the House of Commons, Ms Cooper said the decision was down to fears of a "big bang" introduction with "potential disadvantages to consumers".
Opposition MPs branded the Government's decision "a complete shambles" (see page 18).
The launch will still go ahead on 1 June 2007, Ms Cooper said, but without the HCR as a compulsory element.
Fee-charging ATMs: Low earners left to pay for their cash
Many deprived parts of Britain are becoming "deserts" for free ATMs, and are populated instead with cash machines that charge fees of up to £3 per withdrawal, according to a report by Citizens Advice.
Many people on low incomes were being hit hardest, it said, as they had no choice but to pay when their nearest free cash machine was several miles away.
Chapeltown, Leeds - one of the poorest parts of Britain - has 10 charging ATMs but no free ones.
Fee-charging machines have a "disproportionate impact" on people claiming benefits as these now go directly into bank accounts instead of being withdrawn over a post office counter, the report said.
The Government began paying benefits in this way to cut costs, but those costs were being passed on to the claimants, it said.
While the average cost per withdrawal is £1.50, some machines levy as much as £3. The UK has 58,000 ATMs, of which 43 per cent now charge.
The growth of fee-charging machines is down to banks not getting enough business from poor areas to justify the installation and maintenance costs, and the preference of retailers for the more lucrative deals offered by operators of fee-charging ATMs.
David Harker, the chief executive of Citizens Advice, warned that the problem was growing. "People on low incomes often need to take out small amounts of money and more frequently; they should not be penalised as a result. "Rural communities are among the worst affected: people may have to travel miles to the nearest free machine."
The charity is calling on banks to guarantee that there won't be any further reduction in the number of free cash machines in deprived areas.
HSBC recently said it was looking at placing new free ATMs in areas where there aren't any at present.
Investment: 52 funds have gone to the dogs
The number of poorly performing investment funds is up by more than a third, according to research by independent financial adviser (IFA) Bestinvest.
There are now 52 funds that have let down investors - up from 38 in January, it said.
Among the managers named and shamed in its biannual Spot the Dog report are Prudential with its UK Growth fund (managed by M&G); Henderson's Growth and Income; and St James's Place and its UK & General Progressive.
To qualify for "dog status", a fund must have failed to match the benchmark return in its investment sector in each of the past three years. It must also have underperformed by at least 10 per cent.
Bestinvest points out that, despite its findings, fund managers are not necessarily getting worse. "Historically, the number of dog funds tends to fall when volatility is low, and rise when it is higher," said its spokesman, Justin Modray.
Star managers are not immune to underperformance, he said, citing the recent stock market falls that wrong-footed many.
"Investors should not always ditch dog funds, but they need to have a good reason for holding on to them," he stressed. "For example, a poor manager may recently have been replaced with a better one, or a skilful manager may have simply had a poor short-term run."
To check which funds have been doing poorly, a free copy of the report is available from 0800 093 0700.
Independent Partners: Get fee-free expert mortgage advice and find the right mortgage deal for you.
- 3 Make your voice heard: Sign The Independent's petition to welcome refugees
- 4 Refugee crisis: Aylan's life was full of fear - in death, he is part of 'humanity washed ashore'
- 5 German police forced to ask public to stop bringing donations for refugees arriving by train
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches – it's time to act
Britain to take more refugees as Cameron bows to pressure after more than 100,000 back our campaign
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don't change Europe's attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £40000 per annum + OTE + Incentives + Benefits: SThree: Established f...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40/45k + INCENTIVES + BENEFITS: SThree: The su...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...
Day In a Page
With four bedrooms, this spacious maisonette in a mid-terrace period-style house in Holland Road is well-maintained and offers high ceilings and period features.
The terraces of this two-bedroom penthouse apartment offer panoramic views that stretch over fifty miles from the cliffs of Beachy Head.
In the heart of the coastal village of Mumbles and moments from the pier, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is set over three floors and retains many original features.
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.