As Energy prices rise more than 10%, can they be justified and what is the solution? Depends on who you ask…

What's behind the energy price hikes?

Consumers have in recent weeks been hit by price rises of up to 11.1 per cent – equating to between £100-200 extra per year on the typical household’s fuel bill. A number of the “Big Six” energy firms have claimed that the increases are because of rising wholesale prices, but recent data doesn’t support this.

Statistics released from Ofgem, the energy regulator, suggests that wholesale prices rose by only 1.7 per cent over the last year – a mere fraction of the levels energy companies are attempting to justify. The figures will undoubtedly prompt fury across the country as homeowners prepare for winter and questions are aksed as to what the real reason is for these rises?

We look into the issues, the real reasons and potential solutios here…

Have you heard about Smart Cities? Set to be a £400bn industry by 2020 and a big part of all urban lives

A new report published in October values the smart cities industry at more than $400 billion globally by 2020, with the UK expected to gain a 10% share ($40 billion). This comes as the Government announces the creation of a Smart Cities Forum.

A smart city uses intelligent technology to enhance our quality of life in urban environments. Cities can use the data in a variety of ways; to save money, minimise waste, measure domestic water usage and manage transport routes. An upcoming computer game – Watchdogs – will explore the possibilities of a software integrated city, with wifi provided free in every location and software programmes operating everything from traffic lights to crime prediction systems.

Read on here

Are you one of the est. 1,400,000 landlords not paying their full tax liability?

HMRC wants property landlords to declare all property income and capital gains and to pay what’s due to the government before the January deadline. For the UK’s 500,000 landlords already registered with HMRC this is business as usual. But estimates put the real number of landlords at between 1.4-1.9 million.

Why the big deficit and what tax mistakes are all too common? Read on here

Foxes, hares and rabbits all in decline – but deers boom

urban foxes - a dying breed?Despite frequent tales of the deviance and destruction wrought by urban foxes and a strong media presence concerned with explaining, educating and protecting against their impact, a new study in the European Journal of Wildlife Research has shown that numbers in the UK are actually down by 20% in the last two decades.

This is despite the hunting ban of 2004 . Deer numbers, on the other hand, are exploding – with 181% growth for Reeve’s muntjac and 89% for fallow deer.

Is nostalgia fast becoming a luxury we cannot afford?

A recent report from London Councils, a body representing all 33 of London’s local authorities, has suggested that only 250,000 new homes will be delivered by 2021 in the nation’s capital – a long way below the target of 800,000 they believe is required to maintain London’s future as a global city.

In which case, do contruction companies need to be incentivised to take a very serious look at alternative technologies and construction techniques – moving towards faster erection times over meeting Design Quality Indicators?

Read the whole article here

Property Price Watch

After a period of relative calm when it comes to property and land prices, new growth and renewed optimism is throwing up stories from across the UK of fresh booms and inflating prices. We look at three items we have selected from land and property in an article published in our monthly newsletter for September.

Read the whole article here

Mark Carney announces ‘forward guidance’ strategy


Mark Carney, who replaced Mervin King as Governor of the Bank of England on July 1st this year, is set to release his first major change to BofE policy today. In an announcement at 10:30am GMT this morning, it is predicted that Carney will reveal a new scheme of ‘Forward Guidance’ whereby the Bank will periodically promise to keep interest rates at a particular level, until certain economic conditions are met.

By doing so, they hope to instill confidence in the economy, encouraging investment. But is there a risk of creeping inflation rates and is that a price worth paying?

Check back soon to get the full breakdown…


As expected, Mr Carney has announced ‘explicit state-contingent forward guidance’. This from his opening comments:

“It is now more important than ever for the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to be clear and transparent  about how it will set monetary policy in order to avoid an unwarranted tightening in interest rate expectations as the recovery gathers strength. That is why the MPC is today announcing explicit state- contingent forward guidance. Our aim is to help secure the recovery, while ensuring that risks to price stability and financial stability are well contained.”


The Details

The UK unemployment rate currently stands at 7.8%. The first round of ‘forward guidance’ will establish that interest rates will remain at the historic low of 0.5% until unemployment falls below 7%. Carney said that until that threshold was reached the Bank would not cut back on its £375bn asset purchase programme either.

The Bank’s Quarterly Inflation Report also revised up its 2013 growth forecast from 1.2% to 1.5% and next year from 1.9% to 2.7%.

Overall Predicted Economic and Property Market Impact

In the very shirt term, financiers predict that the FTSE could rise to its highest ever level today on the back of confidence boosting news from the new Governor.

Of more consequence to the wider economy, companies will be able to plan ahead based on reliable and predictable rates of interest and banks will be able to offer customers lower rates on long er deals.

The US central bank, the Federal Reserve, already adopted forward guidance late last year in an attempt to convince companies and households that interest rates would not rise until at least the middle of 2015, at the earliest. This works on the basis that poor confidence and uncertainty in an economy are two of the greatest deterrers to investment – thus a company or household that can accurately predict the state of its finances over time can have the confidence to spend money on, in the company’s case, expanding / investing and, in the household’s case, consuming. Not knowing your financial future typically generates a cautious response, which is not conducive to economic growth.

For the property market, this should act as a catalyst – allowing developers access to long term, cheaper finance and the confidence to take it, which should get sites moving.

For consumers looking to buy property, the stability offered by forward guidance to the banks should give them greater confidence to ‘lock-in’ customers at lower rates for longer. The customer’s decision is also made easier, as the choice between adjustable-rate mortgages and fixed-rate mortgages makes more sense with a stable view of central interest rates, which directly influence lender rates.

The mortgage market is one of the prime focal points of the policy and, on top of the recent progress attributed, at least in part, to the successful  ‘Help to Buy’ scheme – proponents hope that ‘forward guidance’ will provide a further boost to kick UK growth into – in the word’s of Mark Carney himself – ‘escape velocity’.

Mr Carney’s opening coments are available in full, here.

DECC records 22% rise in ECO installations – In a bout of good news for the industry, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has released figures indicating a 22% monthly rise in installations under the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO). 33,765 measures were installed in May, taking the total to 115,723 since the scheme started in January.

Much of that success, particularly with hard-to-treat cavities, has been down to Chartered Surveyors – many of whom are members of our network of independent professionals.

If you need a Chartered Surveyors Report for HTT cavities, EPCs or any other form of work under ECO; contact us now – 0800 880 6264.

New town near Plymouth receives £32m boost – The government has announced an injection of £32m to kick-start the development of an entirely new town near to Plymouth, Devon.

The project started in 2007 but the downturn halted progress and only now is development once again proceeding apace. It is expected the development will stretch over the next 15 years and generate £1 billion of construction investment and inject a further £2 billion into the local economy.

To contact a surveyor local to Sherford and Plymouth, click here.