MEMBERS OF final-salary and public-sector pension schemes should be forced to support the government's pensions lifeboat with an annual levy of £620m, Frank Field, the MP and pensions campaigner, said yesterday, reports the Times .
Responding to consultation on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), Field said the £300m levy on companies with final-salary schemes should be scrapped after its first year and replaced with payments by pensioners and workers in both the public and private sector, says the paper.
Field, who was appointed by Tony Blair to “think the unthinkable” about the future of British pensions, then moved aside in 1998 for doing just that, said it was crucial to ensure the PPF levy was paid by “those individuals that have the greatest interest in a guarantee”.
A SEEMINGLY minor change in Gordon Brown's 2003 pre-budget report to the way Britain targets inflation may be blocking cuts in interest rates, economists believe, reports the Guardian.
The change was from the old retail prices excluding mortgage interest (RPIX) to the consumer price index (CPI), ostensibly bringing Britain into line with other countries, especially the eurozone. The Bank of England's inflation target was lowered from 2.5% to 2% to allow for the fact over the long run CPI has been about half a percentage point below RPIX.
But, as of August, RPIX fell below CPI for the first time since 1992, largely because of the rapid slowdown in house price inflation, which is excluded by CPI.
THE AMOUNT raised by homeowners cashing in on past gains in house prices jumped by more than a third over the second quarter of the year — the latest sign the property market may have stabilised, according to The Times.
Britons raised £8.7bn in the quarter through so-called mortgage equity withdrawal, when owners borrow against property for reasons other than buying a home, Bank of England figures showed.
The second quarter’s figure was up from £6.44bn in the previous three months, which marked the lowest level of equity withdrawal for two years, but remained far below a peak of £17.5bn at the height of the housing boom in 2003.
BARCLAYS, which last week controversially raised interest charges at Barclaycard to cover the cost of customers failing to repay their debts, is stepping up efforts to win a bigger share of the mortgage market after failing to recover lost ground, says The Daily Telegraph.
John Varley, chief executive, frustrated by the sluggish performance of the home lending division, has pushed through a reorganisation of the business. He has made mortgages a priority in a programme designed to help turn round the under-performing UK retail business where Barclays is investing heavily to improve customer service.
Barclays has a mortgage book of £61bn but just 4% of the business despite the marketing clout of the Woolwich. Market watchers say its product packages, until recently, have rarely featured in ratings lists.
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