JUST 100 FIRST-TIME buyers have taken out mortgages under the Government's pioneering shared-equity home ownership scheme with the private sector, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The "Open Market Homebuy" launched by the Chancellor in October 2005 set a target to lift 20,000 key workers onto the housing ladder by 2010 through a shared ownership scheme between the government and high street lenders.
At its launch three companies were involved - Nationwide and Yorkshire as well as investment bank Morgan Stanley under the Advantage brand – while Halifax is still to enter despite being a partner.
In contrast to what are thought to be the actual number of completed mortgages, however, a spokesman for the Communities and Local Government department says the scheme has had an "encouraging start" with 6,400 keyworkers qualifying for Open Market Homebuy and a further 700 home purchases should be completed shortly.
For the Government to hit its target it needs 6,500 completions a year.
BRITISH RETIREMENT provision now occupies a mediocre position in global the league tables, according to the head of a leading financial services firm quoted in the Telegraph.
A survey carried out on 50,000 across 23 countries by Aviva – asking people if they feel prepared for retirement revealed nearly 60% of people in Britain are worried that they have not saved enough money, compared with 35% of people in the Netherlands and 42% of people in Hong Kong.
This means British people are the eleventh most worried nation about their pension savings and, according to Aviva chief executive Richard Harvey, people are banking on equity in their property to supplement their retirement income.
RAILPEN, THE PENSION FUND which looks after the retirement savings of 380,000 railway workers, is moving at least £540m into hedge funds this year, says the Times.
In his first interview as chairman of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF), Chris Hitchen, the chief executive of Railpen, said the £18bn fund would have around £1.4bin invested in hedge funds by December, after increasing its exposure from 5% to 8%.
An increasing number of final-salary pension schemes are turning to more exotic investments to plug shortfalls in their funds and a recent NAPF survey indicated 11% of pension funds had invested in hedge funds by the end of 2006, up from 8% the previous year.
The £38bn BT Pension Scheme last September reduced its portfolio of UK equities from £9.7bn to £6.8bn and the scheme had said its holdings in private equity, hedge funds, infrastructure and commodities would rise from 7% to 15%.
AND STAFF AT BANKING giant HBOS are to share in a £210m windfall from their company share scheme, says the Scotsman.
The firm says 50,000 employees across the UK, including 17,300 in Scotland, will benefit when a series of free shares saving schemes mature in the next few weeks.
Every member of the HBOS staff is eligible for the free share option plan and a share-kicker scheme. In 2004, the company handed 50,000 employees free share options based on 20% of their salary. The scheme is believed to be the only one of its kind in the UK financial services industry to include staff at so many levels. The options mature on 16 March and should generate an average gain of about £2,440 for each employee, or £120m in total.IFAonline
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