The Brexit battle rumbles on. Uncertainty around the general election result has meant that the words “hard or soft Brexit” have become regular parlance in our news bulletins again, but this week the Chancellor Philip Hammond said that the UK should focus on protecting jobs and the economy on the eve of Brexit talks with the European Union.
Mr Hammond said the UK “should prioritise protecting jobs, protecting economic growth and protecting prosperity”.
The Bank of England decided to hold interest rates at 0.25%, but three of the Bank’s rate-setting committee members surprised many by voting for a rate rise.
The committee vote was 5-3, the closest for a rate rise since 2007. The surprise vote pushed the pound up by a cent against the dollar – it fell back later in the day.
Inflation is also well above the Bank of England’s target rate of 2%, at a four year high of 2.9%.
In mortgages, The Telegraph has reported that banks and buildings societies are cracking down on whether borrowers are letting out properties without their permission.
This scrutiny is part of a crackdown started by the Bank of England last year into so called “secret” buy to let investors. Banks and building societies will have to further question borrowers at the mortgage application stage, as well as follow-up checks on them after the sale to see whether they are still living at the mortgaged property.
The newspaper reports that some lenders are even resorting to data-sifting techniques to find the “secret” investors.
Buy-to-let mortgages are more expensive than residential mortgages and have more tax implications to landlords.
In pensions, the former head of the Competition Commission has expressed concern that a new dashboard which aims to help savers see their pensions pots in one place, could lead to confusion.
The dashboard, a Government, regulatory and industry initiative, is due to be introduced in 2019, but Sir Derek Morris, who is now the chairman of a not-for-profit pension master trust, said that he believes there are “really quite serious issues” around the dashboard.
He believes the fact that different firms will use their own dashboards, instead of a singular centralised one, will leave savers confused about growth projections and assumptions.
The sun might be shining now, but it won’t be long until we’re reaching for the thermostat again, and there are warnings that thousands of consumers could be hit by energy price hikes as many fixed-price energy tariffs are due to expire.
Before the end of August, around 54 tariffs are set to expire and households on these fixed-tariffs will be automatically rolled onto the provider’s standard tariff, which is typically the most expensive.