Thoughts of summer

With thoughts of summer holidays approaching, it’s as tempting a time as ever for people to spend their savings and treat themselves or their families. Yet despite this, research from Lloyds Bank has found that people in the UK are resisting the impulse to spend their money. Almost half (46 per cent) of savers have a long-term savings goal. This rises to almost two-thirds (63 per cent) among 25-34 year-olds.

Putting a little money aside each month is a good way to kick start the savings habit. The research has revealed that not all people feel able to save for the long term. Although they want to save for the future, over half (56 per cent) believe their day-to-day spending makes it difficult to save for the long term and three quarters (745) would prefer to pay off any debt they owe before saving.

However, despite over half (51 per cent) agreeing that the money they set aside for longer term saving is often spent on unexpected expenses or emergencies, it’s encouraging that seven in ten (70 per cent) long-term savers do believe that their savings goals can be achieved. When thinking about saving for the future, retirement is the top focus for long-term savers, as over a quarter of Brits (27 per cent) prioritise saving for retirement. Two thirds (66 per cent) of 55-65 year olds prioritise adding to their retirement savings.

It’s encouraging that people in the UK are future focused when it comes to saving, but only one in ten (11 per cent) of those aged 35-44 prioritise retirement when saving for the future. The youngest generation are least likely to prioritise retirement as a long-term savings goal, with half (51 per cent) of 18-24 year olds saving for a first home instead.

Retirement and buying a first home are also amongst the top priorities of people who aren’t currently saving for something in the long-term. One-fifth (19 per cent) of those who are not currently saving for something in the long-term claim that their main priority would be saving for retirement if they were able to start doing so. However, priorities differ among younger savers (18-34 years), as a third (34 per cent) of them would choose to prioritise saving for their first home.

Targeting Prostate Cancer

The Government has set out new plans to help thousands of men with prostate cancer get treated earlier and faster. Over 40,000 men will be recruited into prostate cancer studies over the next five years, which will be backed by £75 million to support new research into early diagnosis and treatment.

The new studies will particularly target higher risk groups including black men – one in four of whom will develop the disease – as well as Stethoscope and Cancer Ribbonmen aged 50 or over and men with a family history of prostate cancer. Over 40,000 patients will be recruited for more than 60 studies in prostate cancer, to test treatments including more precise radiotherapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound, cryotherapy, alongside supportive interventions including exercise and dietary advice.

This new research drive comes as ‘one stop cancer shops’ are being piloted in ten areas to catch cancer early and speed up diagnosis, particularly for those suffering with less obvious symptoms. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and it is now the third most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK.

Tackling Crime

The Treasury Committee has launched a fresh investigation into how the country tackles crimes such as money laundering and terrorist financing. This comes after reports that billions of pounds of criminal proceeds are flowing into British property. The new inquiry will have two strands: one looking at the anti-money laundering and sanctions regime, and one considering the effects of economic crime on consumers.

Police Line TapeThe Committee will examine the scale of money laundering, terrorist financing and sanctions in the UK. They will also look at the current regulatory and legislative landscape whilst also examining how individuals, firms and the wider economy have been impacted by these regimes and their implementation. As well as looking at the effectiveness of the Treasury and its associated bodies in supporting and supervising the regimes, the Committee is also welcoming evidence on the UK’s role in international efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Committee will scrutinise the scale and nature of economic crime faced by consumers, the effectiveness of financial institutions in combatting economic crime and the security of consumer’s data. They will assess the potential for technology and innovation to assist in combatting economic crime, and explore consumer education, responsibility and vulnerability. Whilst it is unclear how much money is laundered through Britain, the National Crime Agency (NCA), has said that current calculations of £36-£90 billion are “a significant underestimation”.

It has been claimed that the UK, particularly the London property market, is becoming a destination of choice to launder the proceeds of overseas crime and corruption – so-called ‘dirty money’. One estimate suggests that up to £4.4 billion worth of UK properties may have been bought with suspicious wealth. As part of the inquiry, the Treasury Committee will examine the UK’s role in international efforts to tackle money laundering, terrorist financing and implement sanctions accordingly. Online banking and payments have become more prevalent so there are more opportunities for fraudulent activity. Action will be taken to look at economic crime on a consumer level.

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that there were 3.2 million fraud incidents for the year ending September 2017. As millions of customers are exposed to the risk of economic crime, we’ll scrutinise the response of the Treasury, its associated bodies and the regulators and explore the role that consumer education can play.

Broadly Stable

According to the latest research by Nationwide, UK house price growth remained broadly stable in March at 2.1%, little changed from the 2.2% recorded the previous month. House prices fell by 0.2% over the month, after taking account of seasonal factors. The Building Society highlighted that, on the surface, the relatively subdued pace of house price growth appears at odds with recent healthy rates of employment growth, a modest pick-up in wage growth and historically low borrowing costs. However, consumer confidence has remained subdued, due to the ongoing squeeze on household finances as wage growth continues to lag behind increases in the cost of living. Looking ahead, much will depend on how broader economic conditions evolve, especially in the labour market, but also with respect to interest rates. The report suggests that subdued economic activity and the ongoing squeeze on household budgets is likely to continue to exert a modest drag on housing market activity and house price growth this year. Historically low unemployment and mortgage interest rates together with the lack of properties on the market is likely to provide some support for house prices but overall, the Nationwide expect house prices to be broadly flat, with a marginal gain of around 1% over the course of 2018.Computer Showing Graph

Northern Ireland saw the strongest annual rate of growth with a substantial 7.9% gain. Prices in the region are still below their pre-crisis levels and 38% below their 2007 levels, while overall UK prices are 16% above. Wales also recorded a pick-up in house price growth, with a 6.1% year-on-year increase, the highest since 2014. England recorded annual house price growth of 1.9%. Amongst the home nations. Scotland saw weaker price growth than England, with prices up just 0.2% compared to the same period of last year.

Home ownership rates have declined across all English regions over the past decade. While the decline has been fairly uniform across regions, the biggest reduction has been in London, where the home ownership rate has fallen from 57% to 47%. The counterpart to this has been robust growth in the private rental sector; for example, 30% of households in London now rent. However, these trends have so far made only small inroads in narrowing the North-South divide. House prices in the North of England are, on average, still less than half of those prevailing in the South. A typical house in the North of England now costs £163,138 compared to £331,047 in the South. However, house price developments since 2007 have been much more varied. London has seen modest price falls in recent quarters, though it outperformed all other regions by a significant margin over the past decade, with prices currently 57% above 2007 levels.