Here’s your February update from Team DFP. In this month’s edition, we’ll bring you the latest news and updates on pensions, the UK’s housing market, and ‘green finance’. We’ll also have a look ahead to next month’s Budget. Enjoy.
A message from our Director…
“Welcome to our February newsletter. Having spoken to a number of you in recent weeks at review meetings, it has become clear that many of us are suffering from “lockdown fatigue” and looking forwards to - hopefully - a brighter summer ahead.
We’re also approaching the end of the tax year, an upcoming Budget (which may prove interesting if rumours are to be believed) and, with a fair wind, some easing of restrictions in the UK. So, it’s set to be an interesting few months for individuals, businesses and markets.
I hope that you enjoy some of our articles on the property market, pensions, green finance and, of course, the Budget. As ever, we’re here if you need anything. So, please get in touch if you do and continue to stay safe.
In the news this month…
Official figures from the Office for National Statistics show that UK house prices climbed 8.5% in 2020. That’s the highest annual growth rate in more than six years, with the stamp duty holiday proving a significant contributor. The highest regional growth was recorded in the North West of England, with the average house price jumping by 11.2%! The UK also recorded more mortgage approvals in 2020 than at any time since before the 2008 financial crash. According to an article in Bloomberg, the ‘stamp duty holiday propelled the housing market into high gear’… something our Mortgage Specialist, Sharon, knows all too well!
Elsewhere, ‘lenders have begun to relax affordability rules for borrowers’, allowing people to borrow much more thanks to a loosening of the cap on mortgage sizes. Click here to find out more.
Moving away from mortgages, earlier this month, the Pension Schemes Bill was given Royal Assent. In a press release, the Pensions’ Minister, Guy Opperman MP, said the Act would make pensions ‘safer, better and greener’. According to the DWP, the new Pension Schemes Act will ‘strengthen protections for savers by extending the powers of the Pensions Regulator’. Tough new laws - carrying a maximum custodial sentence of seven years - have also been introduced for bosses who ‘run pension schemes into the ground or plunder pots to line their own pockets’. What’s more, under the new Act, a new online platform will allow savers to review their pension pots and see what they can expect to get each month in retirement.
Staying with pensions, and the news that Japan has overtaken the UK as the world’s second largest pension market. The UK represents 6.8% of global pension assets, with the US unsurprisingly leading the way on 62%. Read more, here.
And finally, following on from last month’s featured article about 2021 being a ‘pivotal year for green investments’, it was revealed this week that ‘Leeds and London are to become global centres of green finance’. The UK government is set to invest £10m into ‘world-class green finance research hubs’ in the two cities, with ‘banks, lenders and insurers encouraged to invest in clean innovations and green technologies from renewable power to sustainable agriculture’. Find out more about the project, here.
This month’s featured article…
Next month’s Budget could be the most significant for a generation. In a little over 12 months as Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has made more than his fair share of seismic economic announcements. But, with the government set to unveil plans for a road map out of lockdown next Monday, this Budget could impact businesses and employees more heavily than any in recent memory.
So, here’s a quick look at what might be changing, and how it could affect you.
Danbro: ‘What will the 2021 Budget include?’
On a lighter note…
As we approach the rather miserable milestone of one year since the UK entered its first lockdown, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. The nationwide vaccine rollout has, so far, been an unqualified success and, with cases continuing to drop, there are encouraging signs that rules will soon start to be relaxed. On Monday (22nd), we’ll find out more about the government’s plans for a route out of lockdown - for what will hopefully be the final time.
So, as we reflect on a testing 12 months for us all, take a break from the doom and gloom and enjoy some of the cheerier tales to come out of the pandemic. From Captain Tom’s crusade to the clap for carers, here are 80 (don’t worry, you don’t have to read them all) positive news stories you might have missed in the last year…