Grant Shapps

Diary: David Cameron and Nick Clegg value their special relationships

Before they were united in coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg agreed on one thing, that the Labour government was employing too many special advisers. There is a serious case for having more, not fewer, of these political appointees who serve their ministers without being restricted by civil service rules about impartiality, despite the controversy surrounding some of them, such as Alastair Campbell or Andy Coulson. But Cameron promised to cap their numbers, while Clegg's position was that there should not be any at all, unless their salaries were paid from party funds.

Julian Knight: Those born after 1979 could be stuck being a lifelong

Being born before or after 1979 is apparently key to whether you're able to afford to own your own home or not. Older than 33 and you're likely to be already on the ladder, having bought a few years ago and seen values rise in the main. Younger than 33 and it's a massive struggle to put enough of a deposit together and to earn enough to secure a sufficiently large mortgage to get on the ladder. I'm north of 33 and the other day I looked at the price of my first flat, which is currently on the market, and realised that if I only had say a 10 per cent deposit then I probably wouldn't get a mortgage high enough to buy it. This was no palace. It was a more akin to a shoebox backing onto a railway track, typical of so many first-time buyer properties in London.

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