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Shotoflight

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  1. Power NI lowers prices by 9.2% for homes and small businesses - Less than £1 per weekhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31416993 The company said the cut would mean the average household would save £50 a year, and £200 a year for small businesses.
  2. Call for banks to offer more help for those facing negative equityhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31441416 Report here (lots more taxpayer funded advice, SMI, and auctions are bad - compared to 2005 Capital Value figures, interestingly) http://www.dsdni.gov.uk/index/hsdiv-housing/housing-repossessions-taskforce.htm
  3. How squeezed are you?http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/5DPfZlp92nVMmhN65RKsQ4j/how-squeezed-are-you?intc_type=promo&intc_location=news&intc_campaign=clingingon&intc_linkname=radio4_factual_quiz
  4. Private landlords gain £26.7bn from UK taxpayer, says campaign group Generation Rent says private landlords benefit from subsidies worth the equivalent of £1,000 for every household in the country http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/feb/09/private-landlords-gain-26-7-billion-uk-taxpayer-generation-rent The group’s figure is made up of £9.3bn of housing benefit paid on behalf of low-income tenants, £1.69bn through the “wear-and-tear” tax relief landlords can claim on their properties, £6.63bn of tax that landlords do not have to pay on mortgage interest payments and £9.06bn of tax landlords do not pay on their annual average capital gains. Buy-to-let 'even more attractive' as mortgage rates hit record lows Lenders are slashing buy-to-let rates and relaxing lending terms as the 'mortgage rate war' spreads from mainstream to buy-to-let http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/buy-to-let/11402309/Buy-to-let-even-more-attractive-as-mortgage-rates-hit-record-lows.html
  5. Output in Northern Ireland falls at its fastest rate in two yearshttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/output-in-northern-ireland-falls-at-its-fastest-rate-in-two-years-30974234.html It is retail which leads the "descending trajectory", with construction and manufacturing also witnessing further drops. Meanwhile, employment numbers dropped amid reports of less new work and firms trying to reduce their costs. The level of new business also wained last month, ending 19-months of expansion, according to the bellwether survey. Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey said the private sector "has not had the best of starts for 2015". "Local firms reported their first simultaneous decline in output, new orders and employment since May 2013," he said. Exports also fell once again - dropping for the third consecutive month. Scotland was the only other region in the UK to suffer a downturn. Business confidence has been weakening since the end of 2014, according to Ann McGregor of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry. "After what had been an improving economic picture for business over the last couple of years, signs of a slowdown have become more apparent towards the end of 2014," she said. "We have seen business confidence weakening and in fact for our service sector members it is weakest of the UK regions."
  6. Headline numbers: Are you feeling better yet? (UK)http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31136141 Yesterday's Green Budget from the Institute for Fiscal Studies was, on the whole, a depressing affair, with much talk of the need for increased taxes and reduced public spending if targets are to be met. There was, as IFS director Paul Johnson warned, little reason to "rejoice with gladness evermore", despite that quote being embossed in big, gold letters on the ceiling at the launch event. So it was a surprise to hear a prediction from Oxford Economics, which carried out some of the economic research, that the average person would have an extra £417 to spend in 2015, with a disposable income of £18,106. The figure comes from its Spending Power Index. The index is based on the incomes after tax of three groups: the median wage earner (that's the one who would be in the middle if you ranked all the wage earners in the country), someone claiming jobseekers' allowance and the incomes of pensioners, from both state and private pensions. The figure is then adjusted to take account of inflation and the average income from housing benefit and child benefit. You can see on the graph above that spending power took a dive in 2009 and is only just starting to recover some of the losses made.
  7. Top estate agent bankrupt Gerry O'Connor to be disqualified, but firm he founded unaffectedhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/top-estate-agent-bankrupt-30971416.html
  8. Aerospace company Bombardier offered £65m from Invest NI to boost jobshttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31002285 Aerospace company Bombardier has topped the list of companies being offered financial support from Invest NI. The economic development agency has assisted Shorts Brothers, or Bombardier as it is now, with 64 offers of aid worth a combined £65m. According to new figures released by Invest NI, the aid has created or safeguarded more than 2,300 jobs. The agency has offered more than £1.5bn in grants to firms in Northern Ireland since it was established in 2002. It said its financial assistance can be in "a variety of forms", including loans. Behind Bombardier comes pharmaceutical company Almac, whose headquarters are in Craigavon, which has received offers of £58m, partly used in support of 1,600 jobs. Recently it was disclosed that US technology company Seagate had been offered £175m towards it operations in County Londonderry since 1992. It is the third most supported firm by Invest NI, receiving £40m, followed by Citibank, which received £34m and Randox, which Invest NI assisted with funding of £29m.
  9. NI farming industry income drops by 17%http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-31048011 The Single Farm Payment subsidy of £246m represented 87% of total incomes.
  10. Northern Ireland Assembly sells Ormiston House for £1.5mhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30932357 The Northern Ireland Assembly has sold Ormiston House for just over £1.5m, a building it bought for £9m in 2001.
  11. Northern Ireland incomes down by £375 per year, says study£7 a week or so. Recent falls in food, borrowing, petrol/oil etc may negate this http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30939997 Only households in London saw a bigger fall in benefits and the calculation does not include benefit changes which are yet to be implemented in Northern Ireland. The only region to see a bigger gain through reduction in direct taxation was the East Midlands where the gain was £446. Overall the research finds that poorer households with children and the very richest households lost the most as a percentage of income. By contrast, middle to higher income working age households have escaped "remarkably unscathed" on average. Middle to higher income household without children have gained from the changes.
  12. Buy-to-let borrowing grows while other buyers struggle Lending to landlords is up 9pc over the year, while lending to mainstream homeowners and first-time buyers falls - UKhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/buy-to-let/11344772/Buy-to-let-borrowing-grows-while-other-buyers-struggle.html Landlords are the only group borrowing more than a year ago, according to the latest lending industry data, while first-time buyers and ordinary homeowners are taking out fewer loans than at the same time last year. The Council of Mortgage Lenders figures for November, published today, confirmed the general slowdown in the housing market already evident in much data from other sources. But they also highlighted the fact that buying-to-let remains in rude health, with lending to landlords up 9pc compared with the year before. Overall lending to mainstream home-buyers fell by 7pc over the year to 55,600 loans in November. Lending to first-time buyers was 3pc down on the year before.
  13. House price surge: But agent says they may never return to Northern Ireland boom days http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/house-price-surge-but-agent-says-they-may-never-return-to-northern-ireland-boom-days-30906400.html "The demand is outstripping the supply in the hotspots," said Paddy Turley from Ulster Property Sales. "Activity levels are up in all of our branches in the past year. "We're still a long way off what it was and I can't ever see it getting back to that level. "I don't think the banks will allow it unless there is a big upturn in the economy. "What is happening is refreshing because we are seeing educated buyers. "What I mean by that is people understand the price of a house. "They understand their affordability." The findings from the Office for National Statistics are based on data from mortgage completions. Many reports showed a general cooling of the housing market as 2014 came to an end. An increased mood of caution among house-hunters and speculation over exactly when interest rates are likely to start rising, pushing up mortgage costs, were suggested as being partly behind the slowdown. The Government's overhaul of stamp duty in December has prompted expectations that the market could be poised for a pick-up in early 2015. The move will result in a cut in stamp duty for the vast majority liable to pay it, potentially encouraging more people to buy and sell homes.
  14. Christmas pay rise joy for Ulster Bank's staffhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/christmas-pay-rise-joy-for-ulster-banks-staff-30803000.html This is public sector (obviously without the wage restraint) now is it not?
  15. Ministers 'must regulate landlords'http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/ministers-must-regulate-landlords-30840896.html Threshold said the lack of proper oversight means people in Ireland can never regard their rented house or apartment as their long-term home. As rents go through the roof - particularly in Dublin - this has led to a surge in "economic evictions", where tenants are thrown out and landlords immediately re-advertise at much higher rates, the charity said. Launching its annual report, Threshold chairwoman Senator Aideen Hayden said loopholes in the decade-old law governing rented homes meant it was no longer fit for purpose. "The private rented sector has grown exponentially in recent years: it now provides housing for one in five families in Ireland," she said. "However, there are chronic failings in the sector that need to be addressed before anyone living in a rented dwelling can really consider it their long-term home." The Residential Tenancies Act was enacted in 2004 to regulate landlords and rented homes. But there are now twice as many rental properties in the country, and the legislation cannot keep pace with the changing conditions, Ms Hayden has warned. "Loopholes in the law are enabling landlords to remove tenants from their homes and then re-advertise the same properties at substantially higher rents," she added.
  16. ONS: House price rises are accelerating in just two areas of the UK - is one of them yours? Only two regions of the UK saw annual house price growth speed up in October - official data showshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/houseprices/11296239/ONS-House-price-rises-are-accelerating-in-just-two-areas-of-the-UK-is-one-of-them-yours.html Northern Ireland saw the biggest decline in annual growth rate from 10.9pc to 4.9pc,
  17. Zero-hours workers 'earn less' than permanent staffhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30468843 Workers on zero-hours contracts earn nearly £300 a week less than permanent employees, according to a new report. Average weekly earnings for zero-hour workers are £188, compared with £479 for permanent staff, found the report by union organisation the TUC. The TUC based its report on unpublished data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The ONS has estimated there are 1.4 million contracts with no guaranteed minimum hours. The contracts mean employees work only when they are needed by employers, often at short notice. Their pay depends on how often they work. The TUC said its research also found that zero-hours workers were five times more likely to not qualify for statutory sick pay than permanent workers due to their lower level of pay. "If the UK doesn't create more well paid jobs with regular hours we will continue to have a two-tier workforce where many people are stuck in working poverty," said TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady. The TUC has published the report to coincide with the start of its Decent Job Weeks campaign, which it says aims to highlight the millions of people in the UK "trapped in low-paid and insecure work".
  18. Poorest households face fastest cost of living risehttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30477699 UK households with the lowest income faced the fastest cost of living rise in the past 11 years, figures show. The rising cost of domestic gas and electricity was one suggested reason for the trend. Households without children and retirees also experienced faster price increases in their typical basket of goods, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said. The ONS analysed inflation rates for different households from 2003 to 2014. Those who spent the most money saw the lowest level of inflation, the ONS concluded. This could be explained, in part, by prices of package holidays and education barely rising over recent years. The ONS said that households in the bottom 10% of the income scale had an average annual inflation rate of 2.9% each year from January 2003 to October 2014. This compared with an inflation rate of 2.6% among the wealthiest 10% of UK households. TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This shows that people on low and middle incomes have seen their living standards fall the most. Households on lower incomes have faced a double whammy of the highest inflation rates at the same time as stagnating wages."
  19. Petrol prices fall to a four-year low and cost of heating oil plummets by a thirdhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/petrol-prices-fall-to-a-fouryear-low-and-cost-of-heating-oil-plummets-by-a-third-30832276.html And amid sliding oil prices across the world, the cost of home heating oil has also been slashed in recent weeks by fuel companies across Northern Ireland. Heating oil has dropped to as low as £210 for 500 litres or £369 for 900 litres. Experts have predicted further savings in the coming weeks. but is it all good news??????? Falling oil prices - the benefits and the costs Tumbling energy prices may seem like an unadulterated boon - but the bad news may outweigh the goodhttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/oilprices/11288808/Falling-oil-prices-the-benefits-and-the-costs.html Very low commodity prices are telling us something – and it’s not entirely the good news story one might think. Rather, it is that the world economy is down in the dumps, and in the view of money markets and central bankers, likely to remain that way for a long time to come
  20. UK construction output fell in Octoberhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-30444853 Output in the UK construction industry suffered a sharp fall in October, official figures have shown. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said output dropped by 2.2% in October from the month before. However, there was a sharp upwards revision to construction output growth for the third quarter of the year, which doubled to 1.6%. The ONS said this could mean that overall economic growth in the quarter could be revised up to 0.8% from 0.7%. It said this assumed growth in manufacturing and services remained unchanged in the quarter. The ONS publishes its third and final estimate of GDP for the third quarter on 23 December. Data warning As well as falling in October, construction output grew by just 0.7% when compared with a year earlier, the slowest annual growth rate since May 2013. The ONS said there were reductions in output across the construction industry, with only public new work - excluding infrastructure - showing a slight increase. Last week, the closely-watched Markit Purchasing Managers' Index for the construction sector showed activity expanded at the slowest pace in more than a year in November. Data on Tuesday showed manufacturing output fell unexpectedly in October after a strong September, but economists said the country's economic recovery still looked set to slow only slightly at the end of 2014. On Thursday, the UK Statistics Authority said the monthly construction output data had fallen below required standards for it to be considered a "national statistic". It said this was because the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS) had failed to meet a request to improve data standards on costs and prices. The ONS said it was working with DBIS to introduce a new methodology by March.
  21. Translink says bus and rail fares will rise in February (as oil drops 40%)http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30440223 Fares on buses and trains are to rise from next February - by more than three times the rate of inflation. Translink said the average increase on NI Railways journeys would be 4.5%. Ten pence will be added to most Metro fares, while Ulsterbus journeys will go up by an average 4%.
  22. Man found guilty of sub-letting Housing Executive propertyhttp://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30457827 A man has been given a three-month suspended jail term for sub-letting his Housing Executive property as part of a benefits scam. Gary Campion was convicted of failing to declare a change in his circumstances to the Social Security Agency. The 32-year-old rented out his south Belfast home for £350 a month while claiming £250 in housing benefit. The extra money enabled him to move to move expensive accommodation. It is believed to be the first criminal prosecution for tenancy fraud in Northern Ireland. Belfast Magistrates' Court heard that after placing an advert on Gumtree a woman who responded paid more than £2,000 in rent and a deposit between June and December last year. Campion, now with an address at Mount Merrion Drive in Belfast, also provided her with a rent book. The woman only realised something was not right when a Housing Executive contractor called to service a gas boiler in the property in the Village area. Campion denied any dishonesty, claiming he was told by the authority that he could sub-let in special circumstances. Prohibited The court heard how he no longer felt safe living in the house. But the judge decided Campion must have known his actions were prohibited without written permission. Imposing three-months imprisonment, suspended for a year, the judge said he had been found guilty of a dishonesty offence involving public money. The judge told him: "We all know, unless we live in a bubble, that public money is extremely thin on the ground these days. "Anyone who abuses money that is given for people in need is liable to be dealt with appropriately by the courts. "In this case you dishonestly sub-let your Housing Executive house and managed to make an extra £100 a month as well as the housing benefit you were getting for it."
  23. Thats fine. I think you will find that when comparing like for like (not mixing and matching various timepoints) - after Q4 2014, that 2014 prices were on both a quarter to quarter basis and whole of year basis, lower than 2005.
  24. Britons are living beyond their means, says OBR Head of Government's fiscal watchdog says consumer spending has accelerated ahead of pay growth at its fastest rate since the 1990s http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11285507/Britons-are-living-beyond-their-means-says-OBR.html Britons are living beyond their means more now than at almost any point over the past two decades, according to the head of the Government's fiscal watchdog. Robert Chote, the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), said real consumer spending over the past year had accelerated ahead of inflation-adjusted pay growth at its second fastest rate since the 1990s. "If you look at the relatively robust pace of growth over recent quarters, that has been reflected particularly in terms of the contribution from the consumer, of people running down saving rather than having stronger income growth," he told the Treasury Select Committee. Mr Chote said this pace of consumption relative to earnings growth was likely to be unsustainable. "We've assumed that it is not plausible [that this could continue]," he said. "If you look at the last year, real consumption growth has been running further ahead of real wage growth than in almost any other year over the last 15 or 20 or so. Therefore, in our forecast the main reason we expect the quarterly pace of growth to slow into next year is that you see consumer spending moving more into line with income growth, and being less driven by [a] decline in saving." Household consumption growth is forecast to strengthen next year to 2.8pc, fuelled by a further decrease in savings. The household saving ratio is projected to fall to 5.4pc in 2015, from 6.6pc this year. However, consumer spending is expected to slow to 2.2pc in 2016 as the saving ratio stabilises.
  25. Almost 30,000 workers in Northern Ireland struggle to get full-time workhttp://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/almost-30000-workers-in-northern-ireland-struggle-to-get-fulltime-work-30814747.html The information was revealed after a written question to the Finance Minister Simon Hamilton by Sinn Fein MLA Phil Flanagan. Mr Flanagan said the lack of sufficient hours and job security among tens of thousands in Northern Ireland prompted increased fears of those employed still living in poverty. "If you look at the situation elsewhere, there are jobs being created - but many of those are casual work, and includes people on zero-hour contracts" he said. Construction industry drain to Britain 'may be irreversible'http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/construction-industry-drain-to-britain-may-be-irreversible-30815640.html The Assembly's all-party group on construction - where MLAs meet industry leaders - was told that up to 80% of the workload of the top 10 Northern Ireland-based contractors and suppliers is being delivered in Britain. Industry bosses highlighted "significant concerns" over the construction skills migration from Northern Ireland and the fear that workers will not return.
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