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Washout summer 'adds £1bn to energy bills'

Britain's cold and wet summer has added almost £1bn to energy bills as consumers have been forced to turn the heating back on.


Brits have seen a 200pc increase in summer heating bills due to the bad weather.

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Thanks to rantnrave on main board - uk


New sellers outnumber successful buyers by nearly 2:1, said Rightmove, with miserable weather plus Olympic distractions adding to the challenge of selling homes this summer. Asking prices fell 1.7%, down £4,138, which is the largest drop in July for four years.

The thinktank's latest economic forecast said falling inflation and an improving outlook for world trade will bring an Indian summer of growth, though it said the marginal boost to output will still leave 2012 activity flat.

However, offsetting the optimistic tone of its report, it warned that unemployment would continue to rise and consumers would remain constrained by low wage rises and the desire to pay down debts. Figures for unemployment and inflation are due this week.

Peter Spencer, the thinktank's chief economic adviser, said: "Spiralling inflation has cut real wages by 7.5% over the last four years, but the squeeze is almost over. Inflation is now coming back to heel, helped by the chancellor's decision to postpone the increase in fuel duty, falling energy and commodity prices, plus tax changes dropping out of the calculation.

"The boost to household finances and the subsequent pick-up in spending should be enough to push the UK back into positive territory this year, but don't expect a consumer-led recovery further out. Longer term, consumers are going to be more focused on reducing their debt burden rather than splashing the cash."

According to the report, real disposable incomes are forecast to increase by 0.4% in 2012, before increasing by 1.5% in 2013. Consumer spending is expected to be flat for the year as a whole after falls in the first half are reversed in the second half. Next year consumer spending could grow by 1.5%.

The housing market has struggled to generate any momentum since the financial crash in 2007 and the number of transactions remains at a historic low.

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Families priced out of summer day trips, charity says


Children in poor and middle-income families are facing a summer "stuck at home" as they cut back on days out and leisure activities, a charity says.

Family Action Chief Executive Helen Dent said: "Families are facing summer on a shoestring with parents and children cooped up at home as a result of falling incomes and rising prices.

She added that the key findings of her charity's report were that both parents on very low incomes and those in the "squeezed middle" were planning to cut back on days out.

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I never had much money when my kids were young. So we had cheap picnics in the park or a walk in the forest. They don't seem to have come to much harm. If you spend time with your kids playing football - it's the time spent with you they appreciate.

Kids are brought up in a society where it's not just ok to keep up with the Jones', instead you have to go to extremes to make kids happy with trips to Disneyland Florida etc as little Jimmy's parents took him to the one in Paris. Kids are brought up in a materialistic world so we have to accept that they will feel embarrassed among their peers if they don't have the latest clothing or go on a foreign holiday. That's not to say they should be entitled to it as I totally agree with Doccyboy that the best holidays I had as a kid were camping trips or days out to forest parks. My old man got a National Trust membership and by god did he get his money's worth as we visited every damn park and country house here and almost every one in Britain, lol.

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I never had much money when my kids were young. So we had cheap picnics in the park or a walk in the forest. They don't seem to have come to much harm. If you spend time with your kids playing football - it's the time spent with you they appreciate.

Can't agree more.

I did the disneyland paris thing with my kids 2 years ago, it was awful tbh. According to my youngest the best part was "doing drawings in the hotel room".

Plenty of fun to be had very cheaply locally like forests, parks, beaches.... everything else in NI may be fubar but there's still plenty of daytrips to be had for cheap or even nowt.

I highly recommend Armagh Planetarium and W5 if you have kids. Alternatively wear them out round glenariff forest and the like.

But the most highly prized day out remains the local park. Go figure.

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The 'despair' and 'loneliness' of austerity Britain

One London council has begun researching the reality of public spending cuts on vulnerable people, and it's grim


A disturbing theme to emerge was the prevalence of fear and uncertainty. Words such as "isolation," and "loneliness" recur, especially in relation to families with children aged under five, and disabled people "trapped" at home by cuts. The threat of being uprooted from the borough (which has the fourth highest private sector housing rents in the UK) by housing benefit caps provoked terror.

Researchers noticed "palpable tensions" and "more arguments" within families. Residents spoke of reaching "their tipping point". Some perceived a related increase in domestic violence. Anxiety levels were high, and there was "an air of panic" and despair when residents spoke about the future.

Carers were increasingly bearing the burden of benefit cuts imposed on the people they care for, both financially and in terms of their time. Researchers found many carers on the "edge" of mental illness. The Young Foundation's Vicki Sellick paraphrased a common carer response this way: "I'm not sure I can do another day like yesterday."

The reckoning process has only just begun. Many Camden residents did not yet fully understand the impact of the cuts, or that more austerity awaits. But few expect things to improve.

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Thanks to Blackholeshine on main forum. UK.

UK housing costs the third highest in Europe

Britons pay 40% of income on housing costs – making UK the most expensive place in EU after Denmark and Greece


Families in the UK pay an average £6,760 a year in housing costs alone, with mortgaged homeowners paying £7,436 compared to £8,320 for private renters, according to the 2010-11 English Housing Survey. Tenants in social housing pay an average of £4,108. Energy bills add an average £1,152 a year, figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show.

UK energy regulator Ofgem recently forced energy companies to simplify their tariff structures, which resulted in many providers scrapping cheap online tariffs, adding up to 40% to household energy bills. Ofgem also recently announced that a £22bn programme to upgrade the UK's gas and electricity networks will see household bills rise by £7 next year and up to £15 by 2021.

"This is not set to get better any time soon," Robb said. "While the situation is bleak at the moment, a succession of governments failing to provide much-needed affordable homes means that the future facing our children and our children's children is only set to get worse.

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Interesting given the average age of the typical FTB currently.

Children in your 40s, still paying mortgage in your 60s

Starting a family later in life leads to greater debts, with nearly a quarter of parents who had children in their forties still paying off their mortgage past the age of 65.


According to a study by Saga Life Insurance, those who had children in their forties will be nearly 70 by the time they pay off their mortgage, three years older than those who had children at a younger age.

The research suggests that these older parents will also have a higher amount of outstanding debt on their home than average – while typical over-50s owe £62,262 on their mortgage, this rises to £76,719 among those who had children in their forties.

Recent official data suggests that three times as many women over 40 had a baby in 2011 as 20 years ago. The trend towards having children later means that other financial commitments are extended into later life.

One in 10 over-50s is paying for their children or grandchildren’s university fees, rising to almost a quarter of those who had children over the age of 40. Later-life parents were also likely to owe more on loans, with the balance outstanding for those who had children in their forties an average £4,000 higher at £15,274, compared with £11,288 typically.

“Today people have mortgage and family responsibilities into later life,” said Roger Ramsden, the chief executive of Saga Services. “Twenty years ago, by the time people retired the majority would have paid off their mortgage, their children would no longer be in education and would have left home long ago.”

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The nanny state? How the cost of childcare went gaga

Parents faced with 'triple whammy' in summer holidays as costs soar, financial support is slashed and councils buckle under weight of demand


Record holiday childcare costs will hit families across the country this year with charges for council-funded schemes rising by 6.5 per cent since 2010.

As the Daycare Trust released its survey of childcare costs, the Government admitted there was a problem and launched a consultation on the issue. Despite the rising prices, less than one in three councils provides enough childcare to meet demand, forcing many parents to turn to expensive private care schemes or relatives, if they can.

The survey also indicated that most councils have cut holiday childcare budgets in the last year. "Parents struggling to balance work and family life will be extremely worried by this survey which presents further evidence of the childcare crisis," Sharon Hodgson, the Labour shadow minister for children and families, said yesterday.

"Parents are facing a triple whammy on childcare, with costs rising by 6.5 per cent since 2010 at the same time as places have disappeared and financial support from the Government has been slashed."

Care shortages are even worse in rural areas where parents are "almost entirely reliant on relatives", the survey said. The average cost of a week's holiday childcare is now nearly £100, but in the South-east the costs rise to £110 a week.

The Daycare Trust report was published as the Government's childcare commission invited suggestions to improve the affordability and accessibility of childcare.

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Housing ladder requirements: partner, degree and generous relatives

Research carried out for the Guardian reveals how difficult the credit crunch has made things for first-time home buyers


HSBC, which provides one in seven first-time buyer mortgages in the UK, said the figures for those getting parental help were similar to the levels it had seen this year. Although much has been made of high prices in the south-east, which have barely dropped since the market peaked in 2007, stagnating incomes and the disappearance of high loan to value mortgages mean this is not just a London story. Nor does it just involve parents.

Ian Bythell, head of Lancashire estate agency chain Petty's, said: "First-time buyers are often relying on grandad and grandma – it's amazing how often grandparents are coming into the office with them."

Buyers were typically targeting properties costing about £110,000, but local salaries made it hard to save enough. "Grandparents are probably sitting with a large chunk of money in the bank which is earning no interest and are thinking that they might as well help their grandchildren."

First-time buyers are still saving to put together deposits, with two-thirds of those questioned saying they had been putting by money for at least three years. One in five said they had been saving for five to six years, 15% had been saving for seven to 10 years and 6% for more than 10 years.

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Bachelor pads just aren't what they used to be

With young chaps struggling to get a foot on the housing ladder, what's happened to the circular bed and playboy lifestyle?


So the housing market now precludes young chaps from getting anywhere near the first rung of the property ladder. This does not bode well for their dreams to move straight from the bedroom at mummy and daddy's house into their first bachelor pad, like they did in the old days.

These days, bachelor pads, if they exist at all, are more likely to be tiny studio flats in the edgier parts of our large cities, where aspiring bachelors, freshly flown from the nest, spend more time working on their CVs and Linked-in accounts than on filling up the chiller with champagne and oiling the springs on the foldaway bed. There is no time for the playboy lifestyle and this era in a young man's life is bypassed, as he heads directly for a replacement of the family home he has just left behind.

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UK. How typical would this scenario be in NI? Are there any Pams out there?

Wealth Check: 'Help! My salary is being swallowed by my debts'

A university worker feels trapped by a personal loan plus credit and store card debts, as well as her interest-only mortgage


Pam Mullin, from Tyldesley in Manchester, is desperate to clear the hefty debts she owes on a number of credit cards, store cards and a personal loan, as her monthly repayments amount to more than £450.

The 38-year-old divorcee also feels trapped by her mortgage.

Pam has worked at the University of Salford for the past 16 years, and in her current role as project manager she earns £33,000. This position is on a fixed-term contact which ends in June 2013.

At present, Pam's biggest debt is a £3,300 loan with the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). "I pay around £293 a month towards this debt, but am due to clear it in July 2013," she says. "I also owe £1,900 on a Virgin Money credit card and £500 on an RBS credit card, which costs me £65 a month. In addition, I owe £1,100 on two store cards, and these cost me £75 per month."

Pam bought her two-bed terraced house in March 2007, with a Northern Rock Together Mortgage. She has £102,000 outstanding.

"I came out of five-year fix in January 2012, and am now on a standard variable rate (SVR) of 4.79 per cent," she says. "This is on an interest-only basis and my monthly repayment is £444. As things stand, I feel trapped."

A long term goal for Pam is a new home. "One day I'd like to be able to move to a similar-sized property in a nicer area," she says.

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Thanks to Onlyme on main forum. As well as being forced, they are also being encouraged (student debt, get on the housing ladder)



YOUNG people are building up huge levels of debt after finding they cannot cope with the soaring costs of living.

School and university leavers with low-paid jobs have to use savings or borrow from friends and family to meet their monthly expenses.

New research shows 18- to 29-year-olds are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis gripping Britain.

The findings have alarming implications because instead of building deposits to get on the housing ladder or savings to start a family, young people are being swamped by debts they cannot pay off.

More than a million 16- to 24-year-olds are on benefits after struggling to find jobs or training schemes.

Those lucky enough to get work have had to take whatever is going and cannot afford the rising cost of food, fuel, housing and energy bills due to the growth in the number of low-paid jobs.

The study for consumer watchdog Which? found that, not including mortgage loans, young people have the highest debt to income ratio, owing 47 per cent of income compared with the average of 21 per cent.

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3.1 The cost of motoring The price of petrol rose 16.9% and the price of diesel 20.3% over the last two years

4. Overall, the cost of motoring soared by 14% in 2011 – bringing it up to an average of £6,689 – or 55.7p per mile to own and run a car

5. So how do these increases affect motorists’ views on the cost of motoring? More than half don’t know what percentage of their income they spend on motoring and cannot estimate whether it is more or less than five years ago or even 12 months ago. Those that think they know, estimate that they spent an average 13.6% of their income on motoring five years ago and that this has now rocketed to 20%. According to the Office for National Statistics, transport accounts for 13.7% of the average weekly household budget, of which motoring costs form the vast majority (11.1%)6. For family households with two cars, the figure is likely to be

significantly higher.

With costs so high, more than half are changing the way they drive to conserve fuel. Interestingly, while driving to conserve fuel has environmental benefits, only 12% of motorists claim that environmental concerns affect their driving style. This desire to save money can be clearly seen elsewhere in the Report, with motorists leaving longer between servicing and changing their insurance and cancelling breakdown cover.

For example three in ten motorists are leaving longer between services to save money with more than a quarter claiming to service and repair their own cars. Some 14% also claim to have cancelled their breakdown cover and 19% have reduced their level of cover. These trends are obviously of concern because of the increased risk of more accidents attributable to motorists driving unroadworthy vehicles. Despite cash-strapped motorists cutting back on breakdown cover, the number of breakdown calls resulting from motorists running out of fuel soared by 20% compared to 12 months ago due to rising fuel prices, showing the increasing risks that motorists are prepared to take to try to squeeze the last mile out of their tank.

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Majority of car owners struggling to cope with rising costs

According to research by a motoring website, nine out of 10 drivers cited escalating petrol prices as their main complaint


Petrol prices are moving upwards again after a 10-week slump. After bottoming out at 130.81p a litre on 1 July, average petrol prices at the pumps in the UK have rebounded to 133.12p a litre, according to the AA, which expects prices to climb even further over the next two or three years.

The average cost of motor insurance rose by 2.1% for the three months to the end of June, according to the AA Insurance Premium Index. Some insurers policies, however, are cutting prices to stay competitive.

In late 2011, a survey conducted by the AA found that 76% of its members were cutting back on car use, other spending, or a combination of the two. Its findings have also shown that the average costs of owning a medium-sized family car rose from £5,519 a year in 2011 to £5,983 a year currently, based on 10,000 miles of driving.

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Also on main forum

Disposable income at nine-year low, ONS figures show


Individuals had less disposable income to spend on average in the first three months of the year than during any quarter since 2003.

Disposable income per head, taking inflation into account, fell by 1% on the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

This measure of income is the amount of cash individuals have to spend after tax.

Meanwhile, savings levels dropped as families felt the squeeze.

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Household income figures show that the dismal GDP data was no fluke

Bad news, George – those GDP figures are plausible after all. Just look at what's happened to household spending power


Britain, in other words, is two-thirds of its way through a lost decade of declining real incomes. And since real incomes are the main driving force behind consumer spending – which accounts for around two-thirds of GDP – you don't need to be Adam Smith or John Maynard Keynes to work out that the economy is going to struggle.

Of course, when real income growth is weak, consumers can always dip into their savings (assuming they have any) to top up their consumption. Today's figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that is happening, but only to a limited extent. Job insecurity and a depressed housing market mean there is a limit to the willingness of individuals to borrow more and save less, but a rise in the savings ratio from 5.9% to 6.4% meant actual household spending per head fell by 0.2% in the first quarter.

The fact that inflation is heading rapidly back down towards its 2% target means that the squeeze on real incomes is now easing. But prices are still rising more quickly than earnings, and the best that can be hoped for is that at some time over the next 12 months real incomes will stop falling. But it would take real income growth of 2-3% – for a sustained period – to fuel a vigorous recovery. And the chances of that happening any time soon are remote.

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Britons eat food beyond 'use-by' date to save money

A third of Britons are eating food beyond its use–by date while one in five is cancelling insurance policies in an effort to save money, research has found.


Economists have warned that the squeeze on household incomes will continue for some time.

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A much more interesting article than the headline would suggest. Basically about the current state of "financial repression", so serious that the average person took to stocking up on postage stamps!!! Furthermore, telling people to get used to financial repression - it's not going away any time soon.

A Point of View: Why sales of stamps flourish in tough times


One of the landmarks of the strange new world we've entered since the crash of 2008 is that interest rates on cash are in many cases practically zero. In reality, of course, they're negative, since inflation is steadily eroding the value of any cash you may have saved. Real interest rates - the rates for savers that you see advertised in banks minus the rate of inflation - have been negative for several years.

You can earn a real rate of return by buying high-yielding shares on the stock market, but only if you're ready to expose yourself to the hazard of large losses in another crash. That's a gamble many people are in no position to take - pensioners who have no prospect of rebuilding their life-savings, young people struggling to save up a deposit on a house and the millions who are worried about losing their jobs.

This state of affairs is a result of what has been described as financial repression - the manipulation of markets with the aim of reducing the burden of government debt. Bailing out the banks was necessary to avoid a catastrophic financial meltdown.

But forcing interest rates down to a level where they are negative for year after year is a kind of slow-motion debt-write-off. This is what was done with the massive borrowings that were run up during World War I, after which exchange controls were imposed in Britain and other countries, stopping investors from moving their money abroad and compelling them to accept negative returns. Whatever methods they use, policies of this sort are an undeclared tax on savings.

That may not be the intention - governments have no reason to want people to stop saving - but it's the inevitable effect of trying to write off debt by means of inflation. Rightly, these policies are resented as unfair, even though their long-term effects are not immediately visible and few people understand how financial repression actually works.

Again, though it may not be obvious when you're buying groceries, wages and prices in many areas are being driven down by global markets and the internet, and it's not as easy to stoke up inflation as it may seem.

Unless money is printed on a colossal scale and collapses in value as has happened in countries such as Zimbabwe, the hope that today's levels of debt can be wiped away by a dose of inflation may be just an illusion.

While we don't know whether financial repression will work, it's already clear that it's having an impact on the way we live. Politicians tell you to put aside money for the future, but there seems little point in doing so when any money you set aside is certain to lose value over time.

Even if inflation remains at low levels, your savings will melt away if the return on them is still lower. Worse, if your income is rising more slowly than the rate at which money is losing value, you'll be getting slowly poorer, like many people today.

In these circumstances, the very idea of retirement is fast becoming an impractical dream. For younger people, this may seem a remote concern. But if you can't look forward to a time when you can enjoy the fruits of a lifetime's labour, what you have in front of you is a lifetime of chronic uncertainty.

We're moving into a world we find unfamiliar, but maybe this strange new world isn't so new. Anyone who has read the novels of Charles Dickens knows there was a time when most people scraped a living from day to day, with no protection against hardship other than a miserable subsistence in the poor-house.

Far removed from the struggling majority, the rich inhabited a very different world, but even they could be suddenly ruined and end their days in the debtor's prison. Everyone lived surrounded by uncontrollable danger.

We seem to be reverting to an older past in which a mega-rich minority pre-empts much of the profit of any growth in the economy, while the rest of the population has to scramble for whatever they can get. As has been the case throughout much of history, society is being divided into a majority that is destined to remain pinched and struggling and an oligarchy possessed of vast but fickle wealth.

The era in which the middle classes could plan for their old age and expect their children to enjoy the same security seems to be coming to an end. The run on postage stamps could be a sign that some of us are beginning to suspect that the settled life we took for granted may have been no more than an interlude.

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I'm guessing debt, benefits, cash in hand & fraud take up the slack

Squeezing pay yet further will only prolong the UK's economic pain

Pay cuts are a key factor in Britain sinking back into recession. We must reverse the trend towards a low-paid economy


Over the last two years real wages have fallen, on average, by 7%, a downward trend set to continue well into 2013. Of course, with an economy that is still shrinking, some fall in wages and living standards was inevitable. But what appears to be happening is a direct attempt by the government to engineer, under the cover of the crisis, a further fall in the share of the national cake going to earnings.

This comes on top of a three-decade long downward trend in the wage-share. The proportion of the workforce in low-paid work has almost doubled over the last two decades and now stands at more than a fifth. Some groups of workers – from forklift truck drivers to bakers – are now paid less in real terms than in the 1980s, while the UK now has the second highest share of employees in low pay (after the United States) among leading economies.

Five forces are exerting downward pressure on earnings. First, the near four-year long freeze (a real cut after inflation) on public sector pay. Second, voluntary sector organisations and charities responsible for a large share of public service provision are responding to disproportionate budget cuts by imposing sharp cuts in pay. Many care home staff and those working with the homeless are facing pay cuts of up to a fifth.

Third, pay freezes have also been commonplace in parts of the private sector including distribution and manufacturing and especially in low-paid sectors such as fast food and construction. Fourth, the minimum wage rate has been increased by less than inflation for three years running, and is now back to its 2004 level. Finally, the widely floated plans for regional pay rates across the public sector will mean paying staff less in poorer parts of the country.

Many of these pay cuts are likely to prove permanent, with the falls unrestored even when the economy recovers. Just how far the tightening squeeze is likely to go is revealed in a table tucked away in a report by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility. This shows a fall in the share of wages in the economy of a further four percentage points by 2016.

The government no doubt hopes that stagnant wages will boost Britain's competitiveness. Yet much of big business is sitting on record cash piles and could afford higher wages without losing its competitive edge. Moreover, making the labour force pay a disproportionate price for a crisis for which they are not responsible is self-destructive economics. Cutting pay will simply squeeze even more of the lifeblood out of an economy already suffering from a severe shortage of demand. Indeed, falling real wages since 2009 is the key explanation for the economy sinking back into recession.

What is happening is a largely ignored rebalancing of the economy of the wrong kind. What is needed is a reversal of the long-term fall in the wage share, taking it back closer to the level of the immediate postwar decades. Indeed, both the International Monetary Fund and the OECD have acknowledged that wages-shares have been falling too sharply in many richer nations.

A continuing squeeze on pay is merely likely to prolong the crisis, while opening an even wider pay gap and taking Britain further down the road of a low-paid economy.

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Children 'loaning money to parents'


Children as young as eight are loaning their pocket money to their cash-strapped parents, a study has found.

Some 58% of eight to 15-year-olds surveyed by Halifax said they worry about the state of the family's finances, showing how the intense pressure on household budgets is affecting young people.

Real disposable incomes dropped to their lowest levels in nine years in the first quarter of this year to reach £273 a week, an Office for National Statistics study found last month.

Family budgets have been squeezed by high living costs, high unemployment and low wage rises

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Hard-up adults holiday with mum and dad


As many as 39 per cent of adults are relying on a family holiday as a way to travel in difficult economic times, it was found.

The average age of adults joining their parents on holiday is 30, but 19 per cent of adults travelling as a guest of mum and dad are in their 40s.

Two in three of the parents questioned said they were not letting their children contribute a penny to the break.

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  • 441 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?

      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%

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