News The more modern town of Salford, where the latest investment of the English Cities Fund is expected to be announced

Could Britain’s chronic housing shortage be solved by using insurers’ assets? Jamie Dunkley and Russell Lynch report

Consumers back to their old borrow-and-spend habits

As the recession has turned into mild recovery, so has consumer confidence and old-established habits of spending and borrowing – though political talk about cuts seems to have dented consumer confidence recently.

Kate Simon: Looking for a holiday? Take tips from a stranger

Where's the best place to seek holiday advice? Media planning and buying agency Total Media has just released a report that suggests online reviews are now influencing us more than brochures, advertising, newspapers' travel sections (heaven forfend) and travel agents.

More householders will have to rent, says mortgage body

Increasing numbers of Britons are likely to be forced to rent in future as a shortage of housing supply pushes home ownership out of many people's reach, research showed today.

Canterbury's Roman Museum could fall victim to the credit crunch

Canterbury City Council is the latest local authority set to close museums as part of cost-cutting measures. It is wielding the budget axe and has decided that saving the city’s Christmas lights is more important than keeping the Roman Museum open to the public.

FSA switches auditors

A government decision to force the Financial Services Authority to change auditor will save the regulator almost £100,000 a year. Under pressure from MPs, the FSA is to replace accountants Grant Thornton with the National Audit Office.

Icap shares take battering after profits warning

A profits warning from Icap, the world’s largest interdealer broker, prompted a sell-off in its shares today, with the company losing almost a fifth of its value. Icap said it expected to make between £295m and £315m this year, significantly less than the £336m the City had been expecting.

Tom Sutcliffe: A good play has no sell-by date

Watching the current revival of John Guare's Six Degrees of Separation the other night I found myself thinking about the durability of plays. This is a matter, you might have thought, of considerable interest to playwrights too, since they all must dream (at some level) of adding a work to the permanent repertoire. And since plays only truly live on stage, the question of theatrical durability is particularly pointed for them. They can't just lie fallow, as novels often do, coasting through that dangerous slough that lies between novelty and established endurance – the death valley of Yesterday's Sensation. They are likely to need some kind of performance history to get them across the badlands. There are lots of exceptions to this rule of course, but even the exceptions seem to prove the rule. John O'Keeffe's Wild Oats, for example, was a big hit in 1791, then pretty much took a 200-year sabbatical before the RSC revived it in 1976, a production that itself spawned a number of regional productions. But it would be hard to argue that it's been restored to the permanent repertoire.

Simon Read: The pressures are beginning to ease

Mortgage payments have fallen to their second lowest level on record, according to figures published this week by the Council of Mortgage Lenders. Borrowers who bought a new home in November spent an average of less than 11 per cent of their income on paying the interest element of their mortgage, the lowest level for 13 years and the second lowest since records began in 1974.

Landlord driving you mad?

... Then you are not alone. As the recession bites, tenants and buyers are lodging a record number of complaints against property professionals. Graham Norwood investigates

How I Caused the Credit Crunch, By Tetsuya Ishikawa

Tetsuya Ishikawa was an investment banker who sold derivatives and subprime loans; he was made redundant in 2008, and wrote this semi-fictionalised account of what it was like to be a master of the universe.

Steve Richards: The politics of ownership could define the next decade

The government realises that the issue cannot be busked forever

In The Red: I've got an excuse to binge before VAT goes up again

Those two words – "credit crunch" – have become the bywords for our times. They come up in conversation more frequently than the weather, and are held up as justification for a million different things. In reality, though, this peculiar phenomenon's effect on me – and on many my age and in similar circumstances to me – has been limited.

David Prosser: Bankers aren't the only bad guys on pay

Outlook No wonder bankers feel persecuted. Underlining their status as public enemy No 1, the Financial Services Authority yesterday released the findings of an inquiry into whether its new rules on bankers' pay should be extended to other firms it regulates. The answer, the FSA said, is no.

Observations: No need to touch that dial

Blame the cold, winter nights and a need for credit-crunch friendly entertainment, but radio dramas have been enjoying a renaissance of late. The opportunities for tuning into them, though, have been limited to catching up with Radio 4 on the wireless. Now the production company Made in Manchester (MIM) have teamed up with The Independent on Independent Drama, a series of plays which can be downloaded and listened to online or on your iPod for free. Last month, a dramatisation of the final thoughts of persecuted code-breaker Alan Turing premiered online. It's followed today by Death in Genoa, Thomas Wright's fictionalised account of Oscar Wilde's Italian escapades in the late 1890s, following his release from jail. "It's the period when he was unproductive. He just gave up," says Simon Callow, who plays Wilde. "He had no money and he'd lost his subject. He wrote about society and he was now an exile from it. He was completely captivated by the idea of just having a lovely, sexy time with boys and drinking a lot. His native hedonism took over." Wilde's 18-year-old Italian lover/ rent boy is played by Samuel Barnett (The History Boys) while Joyce Branagh (sister of Kenneth) directs.

Winterland, By Alan Glynn

Pressure builds in the fair city
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Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

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